Airbnb boss says the travel giant is taking action to avoid overloading rural tourist hotspots
Recent changes to Airbnb’s website are designed to protect locations like Wales and Cornwall from over tourism, the travel giant’s founder Brian Chesky says.
Mr Chesky also warned that communities that clamp down on tourism too severely run the risk of been perceived as xenophobic.
Earlier this week Airbnb introduced a new way to search for accommodation on its website, with the homepage offering search by categories including the type of accommodation, in-home features and location type rather than destinations.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Mr Chesky says the company is hoping is this change will help to avoid overloading rural hotspots.
“My hope is they don’t all go to Cornwall, they don’t look all in one place,” he said.
“[Overtourism] is even worse if you think of small towns because you can overwhelm them faster, so this is our attempt at addressing it.”
“We want everyone to be distributed rather than everyone going into one small community”.
“My opinion is that outsiders and travellers are good, but it’s like a recipe. And you want most communities to be mostly locals, with some outsiders, and when there are too many outsiders there is no community,” he added.
“But when there’s no outsiders, I mean, think about those kinds of communities.
“They’re xenophobic; they’re not open to new ideas.
“Those aren’t really healthy communities either. I think you want a mix, I don’t know what the perfect ratio is.”
Last year Airbnb said that they back plans for a tourism tax in Wales, and wanted to work with the Welsh Government to develop the policy in a bid to tackle “overtourism”.
A spokesperson for Airbnb, who allow travellers to book hundreds of properties in Wales, told Nation.Cymru that they already had already signed more than 1,000 regulatory and tax agreements globally and were used to collecting applicable taxes around the world.
“We support plans for a tourist tax in Wales and welcome the opportunity to work with Welsh leaders to make it a success, as we have done already by helping generate nearly £2.5 billion in tourist tax revenue in approximately 30,000 jurisdictions around the world,” the spokesperson said.
In November last year, Housing Minister Julie James also announced the launch of a consultation on major changes to planning laws in light of long-running demands from councils in much of rural north and west Wales – which as well as holiday homes could also affect AirBnB’s.
The measures include requiring those who want to use a house as a second home or short term holiday let to acquire planning permission before being able to do so.
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