Airbnb Launches Global Office of Healthy Tourism

  • Airbnb announces new initiative to drive tourism that benefits local communities
  • New data highlights Airbnb’s positive socioeconomic impact in Thailand
  • The company has formed an advisory board of global tourism and policy experts

Airbnb has today launched the “Office of Healthy Tourism”, a global initiative to drive local, authentic and sustainable tourism in countries and cities across the globe. Along with the launch of the Office of Healthy Tourism, Airbnb is also releasing data that highlights the benefits of healthy tourism for hosts, guests and cities around the world, as well as announcing the creation of its new Tourism Advisory Board, which will be made up of travel industry leaders from around the world.  

Since Airbnb was founded 10 years ago, travelers have discovered new destinations and neighborhoods off the typical tourist path, bringing the economic benefits of tourism to small businesses and local residents around the world. Building off of this work through partnerships, programs and events, Airbnb will expand its efforts to economically empower communities, drive travel to lesser-known areas, and support environmentally-friendly travel habits with the Office of Healthy Tourism.

“With travel and tourism growing faster than most of the rest of economy, it is critical that as many people as possible are benefiting – and right now not all tourism is created equal. To democratize the benefits of travel, Airbnb offers a healthy alternative to the mass travel that has plagued cities for decades,” says Airbnb’s Global Head of Policy and Communications, Chris Lehane.

Airbnb’s Office of Healthy Tourism

The company has already embarked on a number of initiatives to promote Healthy Tourism, from landmark listing Yoshino Cedar House in Japan that has rejuvenated a rural aging community and created new jobs, to rural regeneration projects in small villages in Italy and the China’s countryside. The Office of Healthy Tourism will continue to help bring the economic benefits of tourism to areas that want to welcome more travelers into their communities in a locally sensitive, sustainable way.

Airbnb also helps communities scale accommodations to host big events in a sustainable way. A study by The World Economic Forum after the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro reported that the city would have needed to build 257 hotels in order to have provided enough rooms to accommodate the surge of Games attendees who stayed on Airbnb. During the most recent Winter Games in South Korea, 15,000 guests stayed in an Airbnb for the event — the equivalent of adding 7,500 hotel rooms. Collectively, hosts in the region earned over $2.3 million while keeping 97% of what they charged, ensuring that the money stays in the country, with local residents in the area.

Airbnb Releases New Data Showing Positive Impact in Thailand

Today, the company is releasing 2017 data for its top 300 cities and 80 countries, as part of a commitment to transparency with local governments, that demonstrates the benefits of healthy tourism.

Our data in Thailand shows that:

  • Thailand is home to a vibrant community of hosts who welcomed travelers from 185 countries into their homes and communities.
  • In Thailand, the typical host earned USD2,100 (THB67,000) renting out their space 29 nights a year, providing meaningful income for regular people and families.
  • Our hosts in Thailand welcomed nearly 1.2 million guests last year, and 400,000 Thais traveled with us to other destinations, creating offline connections across borders and cultures.
  • During big events such as Songkran this year, Thai hosts earned more than USD$5 million, a 20% increase in host earnings compared to a typical week in Thailand.
  • At a city level:
City Inbound guest arrivals Typical host earnings No. of nights rented per host per year
Bangkok 480,000 guests USD2,300 (THB79,110) 49 nights
Phuket 70,000 guests USD2,820 (THB96,940) 29 nights
Ko Samui 60,000 guests USD5,375 (THB184,890) 29 nights
Chiangmai 160,000 guests USD1,980 (THB68,170) 37 nights
Pattaya 120,000 guests USD1,615 (THB55,600) 31 nights

The company also released new data on how the Airbnb community supports healthy tourism worldwide:

  • 84% of guests said they decided to use Airbnb because they wanted to live like a local, and 66% of guests said the environmental benefits of home sharing were important in their choice of Airbnb.
  • 89% of guests said that they chose Airbnb because it was more conveniently located throughout the city, and 44% of guest spending takes place in the neighborhoods where they stay.
  • 53% of guests spent the money they saved using Airbnb at businesses in the cities and neighborhoods they visited.
  • 88% of Airbnb hosts around the world incorporate green practices into hosting, such as using green cleaning products, providing recycling, encouraging guests to use public transportation, and installing solar panels.

Our strong numbers in 2017 reflect an increasing desire for local and authentic travel within Thailand, among both foreign and domestic tourists,” said Mich Goh, Airbnb Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia. “With overtourism a growing concern for many countries in the region, Airbnb is dedicated to empowering local hospitality entrepreneurs and supporting community growth through tourism that is healthy and sustainable.”

“We are incredibly proud to have some of the foremost leaders in the travel industry joining our Tourism Advisory Board. These are all leaders with impeccable credentials who have worked to promote healthy tourism. We look forward to working with them to develop solutions to overtourism, and tap into their expertise to promote and drive healthy tourism around the world.”

Airbnb’s Tourism Advisory Board Announced

Promoting healthy, sustainable tourism is particularly important as the tourism industry grows. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the travel industry supports 313 million jobs and generates 10% of the world’s GDP. The company has formed a Tourism Advisory Board to help shape the company’s long-term vision and activities to ensure that Airbnb is a solution to the overtourism caused by mass travel.

The Tourism Advisory Board includes global tourism thought and policy leaders who have set the tone for this dialogue in their years in the industry:

  • David Scowsill, Chief Executive of EON Reality Inc. and former President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council
  • Taleb Rifai, the former Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization
  • Rosette Rugamba, Managing Director of Songa Africa and Amakoro Lodge and former Director General of Rwanda Tourism
  • Professor the Hon Bob Carr, the former Foreign Affairs Minister for Australia and former Premier of New South Wales

“Travel is becoming more accessible as the world gets richer. One billion more people will be in the global middle class by 2030, and these new entrants will be looking to travel to enhance their horizons. The concentration of tourism in key locations is creating a threat to their future, by causing congestion, overcrowding, and a deteriorating quality of life for residents,” says David Scowsill, Airbnb Tourism Advisory Board Member. “By bringing guests to new places, and putting more money in the hands of local residents, Airbnb has proven to be a pioneer. Spreading the tourists around each city and each country geographically is an important step to solving this overcrowding problem. I look forward to working with them to expand their efforts as they lead the way in this exciting new venture.”

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