Airbnb Joins World Tourism Alliance, Awarded Best Practice for SEWA Partnership

We’re thrilled to announce that Airbnb has officially joined World Tourism Alliance (WTA) as a member during the WTA Annual Meeting 2018 in Hangzhou on September 9, 2018.

Thao Nguyen, Airbnb Head of Strategic Partnerships for Asia Pacific,  spoke on a panel discussion on poverty alleviation and development during the inaugural WTA Xianghu Dialogue, where she highlighted the role of tourism in empowering hospitality entrepreneurs and promoting sustainable social development in local communities.

The Dialogue also saw Airbnb’s ‘Empowering Women through Home-sharing in Rural India’ project, jointly implemented in collaboration with the Self Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA), selected as ‘WTA Best Practice’ in Poverty Alleviation Through Tourism 2018.

The case was selected by an expert panel comprising the WTA, the International Poverty Reduction Center in China and the World Bank, from a wide range of submissions across international organizations and World Tourism Alliance global members.

In November 2016, Airbnb signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SEWA, India’s largest women’s trade association, to expand livelihood opportunities for rural women and empower them through home sharing.  The project first launched in Gujarat, India and expanded to the northeast of India in early 2018. We recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of our partnership, and are currently working with SEWA to train new members on home sharing, hospitality and quality standards, as well as responsible hosting practices.

The initiative, Airbnb’s first dedicated poverty alleviation project for women, has been a groundbreaking success, with the number of SEWA hosts increasing more than five times since its launch. SEWA hosts who participated in the pilot have also begun to help other women interested in hosting with Airbnb. For many, hosting has become a key source of family income.

Today, Airbnb is actively collaborating with local communities in China to explore how home sharing and rural tourism can improve people’s livelihoods and promote sustainable development. This includes the Airbnb-Guilin Rural Community Tourism Project and Airbnb Poverty Alleviation and Youth Innovation Competition.

In October 2017, Airbnb and the Guilin Tourism Development Committee jointly launched the Airbnb-Guilin Rural Community Tourism Project to develop and promote local homestays, by leveraging Guilin’s unique tourism resources and our own platform. We also conducted a series of host training workshops for local villagers and invited experienced Airbnb hosts to share their experiences with local villagers.

In April this year, we then launched the inaugural Airbnb Poverty Alleviation and Youth Innovation Competition in collaboration with Beijing International Studies University, Beijing Union University, and the Capital University of Economics and Business. The participating students visited homes in rural provinces and worked with professional designers to remodel and redesign their homes, then optimize their listings on Airbnb to attract travelers from all around the world.

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