Airbnb guests spent more at city businesses than average tourists, according to a new study. Credit: Airbnb
A new economic impact study by a team of urban planners has found that Airbnb, recently taken to court over its use in the city, is actually a huge boon for the city's economy.
One of the major factors the study noted is that many Airbnb hosts live outside of Midtown Manhattan's hotel district, enabling tourists to spend money in neighborhoods that wouldn't otherwise benefit from tourism.
The tourists who use the short-term rental company also typically stay longer than those who stay in hotels, according to the study. And while the service enables tourism from people who may not be able to afford to stay in hotels, Airbnb guests apparently spend more at city businesses.
The company has recently been under scrutiny by officials, from the Department of Buildings to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who say they're worried the service is being used to run illegal hotels.
But Airbnb has insisted — and the study attests — that almost 90 percent of their hosts are renting out the home they live in.
HR&A — the firm that carried out the study — was also careful to note the role the company played in helping the city in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Airbnb partnered with Mayor Michael Bloomberg to provide free or dramatically discounted shelter to New Yorkers displaced by the storm.
Airbnb by the numbers
All statistics from the HR&A Airbnb economic impact study, from Aug. 2012 to July 2013
Over the course of a year, Airbnb generated $632 million in economic activity in New York.
That same year, Airbnb users helped prop up 4,580 jobs throughout the five boroughs.
Airbnb guests were found to spend more at local businesses than average tourists. Airbnb guests spent $880, compared to $690 by average tourists.
More than half of all hosts are non-traditional workers — freelancers, part-timers, artists, students — who use the money they make from hosting to make ends meet.
Outer borough economic activity got a big boost: $104 million was generated outside Manhattan.
Airbnb guests paid $31 million in sales taxes to the city and state over the court of one year.