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20 Apr 2018

Airbnb opens 'Office of Healthy Tourism' in effort to boost local communities

Airbnb has launched a new initiative, designed to help travellers find new holiday destinations and counteract the tourism saturation of major cities worldwide.

In an interview with Fast Company last year, Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, said that the problem with travel was "millions of people are going to see a few things, rather than millions of people going to see millions of things".

Called the Office of Healthy Tourism, the new platform will aim to address this, bringing tourism benefits to businesses and residents living "off the beaten track", while also lessening the burden placed on popular holiday spots such as Barcelona.

As part of its mandate, the global office will find new ways to use to technology to create new tourist hotspots, building on the work Airbnb has already done in the area with previous initiatives.

Among its schemes, the company last year launched a programme to promote 40 villages in Italy. It also teamed up with the Guilin Municipal Government Tourism Development Committee to boost tourism in the Chinese province, collaborating to promote Guilin’s unique culture to international travellers and develop the sharing economy.

"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," said Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of Global Policy.

"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. Through the meaningful income earned by the mosaic that is our global community of hosts; our ability to promote tourism to places that need it the most; and the inherent sustainable benefits of hosting, Airbnb is providing the type of travel that is best for destinations, residents, and travelers alike."

Along with the launch of the office, Airbnb is also releasing data that shows 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.

"By bringing guests to new places, and putting more money in the hands of local residents, Airbnb has proven to be a pioneer," said David Scowsill, Airbnb Tourism Advisory Board member.

"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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