Airbnb released a Healthy Travel and Healthy Destinations report on May 29 which shows how its platform and community model helps fight mass tourism and promotes sustainable travel.
Furthermore, the report shows that Airbnb is changing the economics of travel and tourism, which now represents more than 10% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to benefit local families and communities.
Across the eight global tourist destinations studies, at least two-thirds of all guest arrivals on Airbnb takes place outside of traditional tourist areas, and 72% to 93% of Airbnb listings are located outside of areas that are at risk of overtourism, as a result of homes being less concentrated than hotels. According to Airbnb, this encourages geographic diversity and distribution of guest arrivals.
“One way to mitigate overtourism is dispersal,” says Jonathan Tourtellot, Founder of the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations, adding: “Spread visitors throughout the city so they don’t overwhelm certain districts and popular sites. Home sharing may help in two ways—one simply because shared listings are often more spread out geographically than commercial lodgings, and the other by what hosts themselves may recommend to their guests.”
A first of its kind global analysis of over 2.8 million Airbnb host guidebooks also shows hosts are helping fight tourist crowding through local recommendations to guests. The analysis depicts the median guidebook recommended location is a 20-minute walk from the host’s listing, typically outside tourist hotspots, and two-thirds of recommend places to eat within the same radius.
The analysis also shows that 61% of all Airbnb host guidebook recommendations offered around the globe are only recommended by one host, meaning only the guests of that particular host are being directed to that location/activity through Airbnb.
Globally, this implies that today, one can find over one million individual-host guidebook recommendations that no other host recommends – a welcome antidote to standardised tourist maps that spawn, according to Tourtellot who describes this as ‘generic businesses’. “These generic businesses force out distinctive local shops, eateries and crafts,” he says.
The majority of money spent on Airbnb flows directly to hosts who keep up to 97%. Hosts then spend and reinvest their earnings in a number of ways including household expenses, rent/mortgage payments, education and so on. Relative to chain hotels, a much smaller percentage of home sharing spending is paid in fees.
This stands in contract to tourism spends with hotels, where anywhere between 14 to 36 cents of each chain-hotel dollar may never reach the actual destination community. On cruise ships, data shows the only potential benefits for local communities from cruise ship accommodation spending are fuel costs and local transportation costs of shuttling day-trippers from a port to a limited number of sites.
“From the destination point of view, tourism can be plotted on a spectrum from beneficial to problematic,” says Tourtellot, continuing: “At the beneficial end, we can posit that healthy travel is good for the visitor and good for the destination—its people, environment, culture, and character. The goal, of course, is to avoid conditions that fail to do that, as in the case of ‘leakage’, when a high proportion of tourist revenue goes to the bottom line of a far-away business or corporation rather than helping the local economy.”
In a study of eight of the world’s most popular travel destinations at risk of overtourism, including Barcelona, Venice, Amsterdam and Japan, data shows that Airbnb accounts for 7% of all guest arrivals, including hotel and cruise ship guests. This equates to 0.37 guests per local resident on Airbnb, compared to 5.1 tourists for every local resident.
“Airbnb is built on the foundation that home sharing delivers authentic experiences for guests while benefiting local people, places and communities. We firmly believe our community is part of the solution to the challenges of mass tourism, and can deliver sustainable growth that benefits everyone.” - Airbnb Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Nathan Blecharczyk.
This report by Airbnb follows the launch of Airbnb’s Office of Healthy Tourism, which aims to promote the development of healthy tourism across the world, and the launch of global data on the positive impacts of home sharing in more than 300 cities and 80 countries.