Over the past year, five million Airbnb guests arrived at all 47 prefectures in Japan, where the National Diet just enacted legislation giving the green light for home sharing, ensuring that Airbnb can continue to help revitalize Japan’s rural economies through the benefits of tourism. The focus of our rural revitalization efforts in Japan has been helping local governments rebuild their economies after natural disasters and retain their workforces by providing opportunities residents might otherwise feel compelled to move to cities to find.
Airbnb is proud to partner with Kamaishi City on its efforts to revitalize its economy through its “Open City Strategy” to increase civic participation and expand the network of those who are connected with the community. We are grateful to play a role in this effort by empowering more people to share their homes and helping Kamaishi scale up its accommodations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
While our host community outside Japan’s urban areas still represents a small fraction of our overall community here, their numbers have grown considerably within the past year. Twenty-two hundred non-urban Airbnb listings in 2015 more than doubled to 5,300 in 2016. Guest arrivals more than tripled from 70,200 to 257,500. Host income nearly quadrupled, from ¥666 million to ¥2.5 billion.
Keiko’s family, Wakayama
Wakayama prefecture is well known for its divine mountains, forestry and fruit farms. Peaches, plums, persimmon, strawberries and other kinds of fruit are grown in the region. Keiko’s family mainly farms peaches. Her husband moved to Wakayama about 20 years ago, and after starting with a smaller patch of land, he too has become a successful peach farmer.
Keiko and her family used to accept volunteer workers from all over the world to help on the farm during their peak season, all living together like a family in their home. In 2015, a French couple who were volunteering on the farm introduced them to Airbnb. After taking in guests for years, it seemed natural to Keiko’s family to start hosting through Airbnb.
They liked it from the start. Compared to the intensity of hosting volunteer workers, staying together, working together and eating every meal together, the Airbnb relationship between host and guest gives them a more balanced life. Some guests come to their listing just to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, while some do like to help with the farming. Keiko’s two small children love to play with foreign guests, which their parents believe is good for their education. Hosting on Airbnb also provides Keiko’s family with extra income to help them bridge the gap between the investments they have to make for a successful peach harvest and the actual harvest time.
Even when guests stay for a short period, Keiko says, we trust them and they trust us as we open up our home. By doing so, everyone can be like a family and build a sense of belonging that helps make Keiko’s family lives more fulfilling.