Tel Aviv, Dubai among world’s priciest Airbnb cities

SUNBATHING in Tel Aviv or hitting Dubai’s fabulous malls will set you back a bit more these days.

A combination of high hotel and apartment costs and strong tourism has Airbnb rates in some Middle Eastern cities among the world’s priciest.

In the latest Bloomberg index, Miami and Boston took the top two spots in the average daily cost of lodging in private dwellings for the second straight year.

However, the Middle East has been climbing in the annual index and this year has five destinations among the top 15 priciest global cities: Tel Aviv and Dubai are fourth and fifth on the list, and Jerusalem, Riyadh and Kuwait City are also near the top.

Dubai’s expensive short-term rentals, averaging US$185 a night in Bloomberg’s index, probably are a function of high hotel rates in the Emirati city, where more than 70 per cent of hotel rooms are four-star or above, said Ivana Vucinic of the international real estate firm Chestertons.

Dubai’s supply of Airbnb units more than doubled to 3,249 units in the two years ended August 2017, following a relaxing of government regulations, according to Ms Vucinic’s research on Dubai’s short-term rental market.

Dubai has spent billions to pump up its tourism sector and hopes to attract 20 million visitors to the city by 2020, up from 15.8 million visitors last year, according to figures from Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Two UAE-sponsored airlines, Emirates and Etihad Airways PJSC, have been among the world’s fastest-growing carriers in recent years.

Should Dubai reach the 20 million visitor goal, it will be among the top five most visited cities globally, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

Pricey Airbnb listings in Israel may have more to do with the high cost of housing in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, said Yoav Kerner, a lecturer of statistics at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

Apartments in Tel Aviv typically eat up at least three-quarters of the average person’s gross income, said Mr Kerner, who studied the Airbnb market in Tel Aviv on behalf of a hoteliers group.

Since Airbnb owners want a premium over what they could earn renting out their units for a full year, that drives up short-term rental costs, he said. Mr Kerner estimated that Airbnb has helped push up overall Tel Aviv rents by about 10 per cent.

Several cities, including New York, have put various restrictions on the short-term rental market out of fear that the practice drives up housing costs. Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas challenged this idea, saying it’s being perpetuated in part by hoteliers.

“It’s no surprise to see the hotel industry paying for misleading reports about our community,” he said. “The data shows that these claims simply don’t hold water.” BLOOMBERG


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