We generated £40m for Belfast economy in 2018, says Airbnb
Guests and hosts on the online accommodation platform Airbnb brought more than £40m into the Belfast economy in 2018, it has been claimed.
A report from the company said the £40m spend included £28.5m in expenditure on food, excursions and travel, with an average daily spend of £81.
And Belfast hosts on Airbnb, many of whom were letting out rooms in their homes to strangers as a means of boosting their income, earned £8.7m in total, an average of £53 per guest.
The website offers a vast range of Belfast accommodation, including a one-bed Victorian-style apartment on south Belfast's University Road for £84 a night, and a two-bed house on the city's Ormeau Road for £85 per night.
And a double bedroom described on Airbnb as "in the heart of west Belfast" costs £46 per night.
But in contrast, Airbnb prices for stays in Portrush during the period of The Open golf championship from July 14-21 are around £2,360 for a one-week stay in a one-bed apartment.
Visitors from Britain made up 40% of all Airbnb guests in Belfast, followed by the USA, republic, Canada and France.
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Hadi Moussa, Airbnb country manager for the UK and Northern Europe, said: "Airbnb has transformed the way people travel, helping visitors to explore beyond the traditional destinations and hotspots.
"Tourism plays an important role in the Belfast economy, and the Airbnb community of hosts and guests are helping to spread the benefits of this tourism, enabling travellers to live like locals and putting money in the pockets of local families, businesses and communities."
Tom Smyth, owner of flat rentals firm Dream Apartments, said he used Airbnb for rentals on some of the company's accommodation in Belfast.
"They are a really organised outfit and we do use them, as well as online travel agents and global booking agents," he explained.
But he said a drawback with Airbnb was the potential impact on neighbours if a single home on a street was let out by its owners and short-term occupants proved to be unruly.
"I believe it works better where it's consolidated in one building, like with Dream Apartments."
Dream Apartments operates flat rentals in locations including Obel 64 on the city's waterfront.
However, Mr Smyth said the terms of its lease on flats at Titanic Quarter barred it from Airbnb and other forms of short-term rental.
According to Airbnb, the top five destinations for its users here were Belfast, Londonderry, Coleraine, Ballycastle and Portrush.