Airbnb’s New “Office of Healthy Tourism” Promotes Untapped Destinations

Airbnb’s New “Office of Healthy Tourism” Promotes Untapped Destinations
Hotels, Hospitality & Travel

The venture is the company's latest attempt to relieve overcrowded cities and boost sustainable travel by drawing tourists to smaller towns and villages

Kim Windyka
  • 3 may 2018

Airbnb’s newest initiative, the Office of Healthy Tourism, was recently launched as part of an effort to unburden vacation hot spots and attract more travelers to hidden gem locales. The office was also designed as an exercise in exploring the use of technology when it comes to travel, and will be responsible for the selection and promotion of destinations that are off the beaten path.

By partnering with designated communities, which range from rural areas of China to Italian villages, Airbnb hopes to increase authentic, sustainable and local tourism. In pursuit of this goal, the company is supplementing the new office with an Advisory Board comprised of travel industry heavyweights from around the globe that can provide insight and guidance in the face of criticism around its concentration in popular cities.

A decade after its launch, Airbnb now boasts more than four million listings—a figure that’s larger than the number of guestrooms at the top five hotel chains combined. Decreasing numbers of residents in renowned destinations like Paris and Venice have even led local officials to take steps to reduce the over-saturation of tourists, like capping the amount of Airbnb hosts allowed to operate in the cities. Similarly, Morocco will implement a tax on all accommodations booked through the website beginning next year in an attempt to cushion the economic hit endured by area hotels and travel agents.

This isn’t Airbnb’s first bid to tout lesser-known places. Last year, it linked up with the Italian Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Association of Italian Municipalities to draw visitors to 40 villages across the country. In addition, co-founder and Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia established the Yoshino Cedar House in a small Japanese town that was on the decline due to an exodus of young people and a growing concentration of elderly residents. Since its opening in 2016, the house has allowed for the creation of 70 new jobs in the region and attracted guests from 32 countries.

The Office of Healthy Tourism’s increased emphasis on environmentally-friendly accommodations is part of a shift that already appears to be underway for both hosts and guests. Data collected from Airbnb users in 2017 revealed that 88% of hosts were incorporating at least one “green” practice into their services, and 66% of guests chose to book on the platform in part due to the sustainable nature of home-sharing.

Airbnb

Airbnb’s newest initiative, the Office of Healthy Tourism, was recently launched as part of an effort to unburden vacation hot spots and attract more travelers to hidden gem locales. The office was also designed as an exercise in exploring the use of technology when it comes to travel, and will be responsible for the selection and promotion of destinations that are off the beaten path.

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