Airbnb today announced a major new policy initiative to promote healthy tourism and help policymakers solve the problems created by mass travel or over-tourism. Airbnb also announced that former NSW Premier and Foreign Affairs Minister Professor the Hon Bob Carr has joined its new global tourism advisory board, alongside travel industry leaders from around the world.
Airbnb’s new Office of Healthy Tourism will drive local, authentic and sustainable tourism in countries and cities across the globe. Along with the launch of the Office and the creation of its new Tourism Advisory Board — with former NSW Premier and Foreign Affairs Minister Professor the Hon Bob Carr the representative for Asia-Pacific — Airbnb has released new data showing the benefits of healthy tourism for hosts, guests and cities around the world.
Since the company was founded 10 years ago, travellers have discovered new destinations and neighbourhoods 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 places, 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 democratise the benefits of travel, Airbnb offers a healthy alternative to the mass travel that has plagued cities for decades. Airbnb supports tourism that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable,” says Airbnb’s Global Head of Policy and Communications, Chris Lehane.
“Airbnb is delivering what most governments could only dream of – it is putting more money in the back pockets of Australian families and easing the cost-of-living without spending a single cent of taxpayer dollars,” says Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy Australia and New Zealand, Brent Thomas. “In contrast to the Mass Travel Industrial Complex, Airbnb supports a healthier form of travel where everyone in the community benefits — not just the lucky few or big end of town.”
“At a time when societies are increasingly skeptical of the benefits of technology or tourism, Airbnb is an example of how both can be forces for good,” said Professor the Hon Bob Carr, Airbnb Tourism Advisory Board Member. “Airbnb stands for healthy, inclusive and sustainable tourism and I am incredibly enthused to lend my experience and support to this worthy, timely initiative.”
Mr Lehane added “We are incredibly proud to have some of the foremost leaders in the travel industry joining our Tourism Advisory Board. These are all leaders of impeccable credentials who have worked to promote healthy tourism. With members from four different continents, we look forward to getting their perspectives on solutions to over-tourism and to tap their expertise to promote and drive healthy tourism around the world.”
Airbnb’s Office of Healthy Tourism
The company has already embarked on a number of initiatives to promote Healthy Tourism. Last year, Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia opened the Yoshino Cedar House, a landmark listing in a rural community that was slowly disappearing due to an aging population, low birth rate, and exodus of young people. Since the house opened, Yoshino has hosted hundreds of guests from 32 countries, and 70 jobs have been supported in this small town by the spending of hosts and guests. The Office of Healthy Tourism will continue to focus on rural regeneration everywhere, from small villages in Italy to the countryside in China, 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.
In another project to promote Healthy Tourism, Airbnb will partner with the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business to host the Africa Travel Summit in September 2018. This three-day summit will bring together some of the most innovative thinkers from across the continent to discuss how technology can help shape a more sustainable and inclusive tourism that empowers underserved communities in Africa. The summit will also focus on how to build a resilient tourism that can support places in times of resource scarcity.
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. For the most recent Winter Games in South Korea, 15,000 guests used Airbnb to attend the event — the equivalent of adding 7,500 hotel rooms. Collectively, hosts in the region earned over $2.3 million keeping 97% of what they charged, ensuring that the money stays in the country, with the local residents in the area.
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. Tourism Research Australia found tourism contributed more than $55.3 billion to Australia’s GDP and employs more than 598,0000 people across the country in 2016-17.
While Airbnb is an inherently healthy way to travel, 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 over-tourism 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:
- Professor the Hon Bob Carr, the former Foreign Affairs Minister for Australia and former Premier of New South Wales
- 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
Airbnb Releases New Data Showing Positive Impact Around the World
Airbnb’s healthy form of travel is also having a positive, meaningful impact in cities and countries around the world. 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. The data was pulled for Australia and shows that:
- Australia is home to a vibrant community of hosts who welcomed travelers from 197 countries into their homes and communities.
- In Australia, the typical host earned AUD$5,400 renting out their space 28 days a year, providing meaningful income for regular people and families.
- Australia welcomed more than 5 million inbound guests last year, and more than 6.1 million outbound guests traveled from Australia to other destinations, creating offline connections across borders and cultures.
The company also released new data on how the Airbnb community supports healthy tourism worldwide:
- 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.
- 79% 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 than hotels, and 44% of guest spending happens 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.