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World Bank and Airbnb Sign MoU to Promote Rural Tourism

Travel and tourism is the largest service industry in the world and accounts for nearly 10 percent of global GDP. The pilot projects will launch in India and Sri Lanka first.

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At the 2017 Tourism Knowledge Exchange, an event highlighting the latest innovations in sustainable tourism, Airbnb and the World Bank Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to partner toward boosting developing economies through tourism.

Travel and tourism is the largest service industry in the world and accounts for nearly 10 percent of global GDP. In 2015, revenues from international tourism represented 421 million dollars in emerging economies. Emerging markets’ share of total global arrivals is expected to reach 57 percent by 2030. This corresponds to over 1 billion travelers, each spending money, transferring wealth, and creating jobs.

Through the agreement, Airbnb and the World Bank Group will examine ways in which emerging destinations use new technology and platforms such as Airbnb to create economic opportunities for communities that have not traditionally benefited from tourism and hospitality.

The two organizations will also share information on the current scale of alternative accommodation options and home sharing across several countries, beginning with pilot projects in Sri Lanka and India.

Ultimately, this work will seek to better define the development impacts of these accommodation options while paying particular attention to the ways in which they can be leveraged to unlock economic opportunities in marginalized regions and communities. Airbnb and the World Bank Group will then apply lessons learned before rolling out the initiative to other countries around the world.

“At Airbnb, we believe home sharing can help close the widening gap in economic opportunity between urban and rural areas,” said Clark Stevens, director of Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at Airbnb. “We’ve already seen the important economic engine that home sharing has become for communities around the world, and we’re excited to partner with the World Bank Group to further study the development impacts of home sharing and pilot projects in emerging tourist destinations.”

“Travel and tourism is one of the largest service industries in the world and accommodation is at its core. The sharing economy has created opportunities across the sector and this partnership with Airbnb allows us to better understand those opportunities, prepare policy responses and examine ways to support developing countries as they enable their tourism sectors to boost GDP, create jobs and decrease poverty,” said Cecile Fruman, director of the World Bank Group’s Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice.

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