Airbnb in Singapore

Asia a fast-growing region for home-sharing firm Airbnb

Airbnb recently moved into a three-storey office in Cecil Street. It also serves as the home-sharing website's Asia-Pacific headquarters.
Airbnb recently moved into a three-storey office in Cecil Street. It also serves as the home-sharing website's Asia-Pacific headquarters.PHOTO: AIRBNB

Airbnb is perhaps the name most synonymous with home rental websites.

With about two million listings across more than 190 countries, the San Francisco-based firm is arguably the largest of its kind.

In 2012, Airbnb opened its Singapore office, which also serves as its Asia-Pacific headquarters.

It recently moved into a three-storey office in Cecil Street.

There are about 6,000 properties in Singapore listed on the website, an Airbnb spokesman said, adding that Asia is one of its "fastest-growing regions".

He said that home-sharing can support local businesses away from the usual tourist spots, and help hosts afford rising living costs and prepare for retirement.

Pointing to seniors who might have spare rooms in their homes, the spokesman said: "It provides them an extra source of income and an opportunity to welcome travellers from all over the world without leaving their home.

"They find great joy in being local ambassadors and continuing an active lifestyle."

Addressing the issue of security, Airbnb said safety tools such as detailed profiles and authentic reviews allow guests and hosts to "get to know each other before a reservation". "An example is our Verified ID system, which connects a person's offline identification (like a passport) with the online profile they've created on Airbnb."

Asked about Singapore's rules against rentals shorter than six months, Airbnb noted that more cities around the world are embracing home-sharing.

The spokesman pointed to South Korea and Dubai, which recently signed tourism-related agreements with Airbnb.

"We encourage Singapore to join this trend, and adopt fair and progressive rules to allow regular people to share their homes."

Yeo Sam Jo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 22, 2016, with the headline 'Asia a fast-growing region for home-sharing firm Airbnb'. Print Edition | Subscribe