Lonely Planet Writer

Airbnb looking to promote tourism 'to places that need it the most'

With more and more cities looking to regulate Airbnb, the accommodation giant has decided to be proactive and create a department of ‘healthy tourism’ to encourage more sustainable and authentic travel.

Airbnb is focusing on rural regeneration.

Cities battling overtourism have made many headlines over the last year but Airbnb is looking to create positive change in more rural areas and “promote tourism to places that need it the most” to offer “a healthy alternative to the mass travel that has plagued cities for decades.”

While the company fights off legal battles from major cities – including the most recent challenge by Morocco to tax them in a bid to protect the tourist industry – it is hoped that by providing an easier way to access off-the-beaten-track areas, it may alleviate some of the pressure on cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Venice.

Samara Yoshino Airbnb interior. Image by Samara

As a success story, the company points to their Yoshino Cedar House which aimed to make a little-known Japanese town a tourist destination. Last year, they launched similar rural regeneration projects promoting small villages in Italy and China.

David Scowsill, who is on the company’s Tourism Advisory Board, explained that “spreading the tourists around each city and each country geographically is an important step to solving this overcrowding problem.”

The office has also committed to a principle of transparency, albeit with the aim of persuading local governments of the benefits of keeping Airbnb operating in their regions. Some interesting stats emerged from the report, including the fact that 53% of guests said they spent the money they saved using Airbnb on local businesses while they they were on their travels.

Most hosts and guests said eco-friendly principles were important to them.

88% of Airbnb hosts said they incorporated some green practices into their hosting, such as recycling, renewable energy sources and providing information on public transport. 66% of guests said the environmental benefits of home-sharing played a role in helping them choose Airbnb.

The company’s 2017 data from their top 300 cities and 80 countries is also available to browse online, showing you how many inbound and outbound guests for each destination and the average amount of money earned by a host. There are currently 4.85 million active global listings with Airbnb guests coming from more than 190 countries.