With the launch of the “Historical Homes” category on the website, Airbnb reached a new step in its engagement for cultural heritage in Europe. Sensing the wave of cultural heritage tourism and the growing request for heritage-related accommodations and experiences (cultural tourism accounting for 40 per cent of all tourism worldwide), Airbnb has already started several actions to invest in the development of cultural heritage in multiple European countries.
Ten million dollars is the amount of investment that Airbnb has allocated to multiple heritage associations in Europe to support the restoration of historical sites and homes. The interest of the company is to propose immersive experiences in local cultural heritage. The company itself has bought a €1 house in Sambuca, Italy and financed its restoration. The goal of the initiative surely is to make profit from the (exclusively annual) rent of the house but also to propagate a new model for rural tourism, triggering a demographic increase and job opportunities in remote areas.
It is not the first time that the company undertakes actions for the protection of cultural heritage in Italy, where it restored the house of an artist in Civita di Bagnoregio, supported the revitalisation of Grottole, a village in Basilicata, and promoted the Italian Villages Project to highlight rural and maritime destinations supporting sustainable tourism.
Airbnb has funded associations operating in the restoration and safeguard of cultural heritage in Italy, France, UK, Germany and Spain for a total amount of ten million euros investments. The goal is to develop the demand for almost 70% of historical houses available on Airbnb that are only present in non-urban and less visited trails. These business objectives promote the protection and tourist flow in off-tracks areas. To efficiently administrate historical houses and sites, Airbnb has launched the Heritage Academy, a training for hosts that aim to put their historic houses on the platform.
Airbnb has played an important role in the gentrification of several spots and locations and its unregulated action has been criticised by heritage professionals and researchers. However, these initiatives make us wonder if there is another way to manage these global tools and whether they exclusively represent a threat or may, if well regulated, become means of promotion for sustainable tourism, employment in rural areas and demographic balance.
Dupas Achille, Airbnb : un rapport montre comment la plateforme contribue à la crise du logement en France, 14/12/2020, Neonmag, https://www.neonmag.fr/airbnb-un-rapport-montre-comment-la-plateforme-contribue-a-la-crise-du-logement-en-france-566373.html
An update on our commitment to heritage tourism in Europe, 08/11/2022, Airbnb News, https://news.airbnb.com/en-uk/an-update-on-our-commitment-to-heritage-tourism-in-europe/
Airbnb launches Historical Homes category due to heritage travel trend, 05/07/2022, Airbnb News, https://news.airbnb.com/en-uk/historical_homes/
From Crumbling Hamlet to Artist House: Airbnb Helps to Revitalize Ancient Village of Civita, Italy, Airbnb News, https://news.airbnb.com/civita/