Airbnb on the Hunt for Local Akiyas in Japan

Airbnb contributes $1 million to a Japan-USA regional tourism exchange program, sending Japanese tourism professionals to USA. This sprogram wants to revitalize local economies through tourism promotions, as 2024 is designated as ’Japan-USA Tourism Year.’

Participants from Japan will stay in local Airbnb listings in USA to know how tourism experiences created by hosts and local communities impact on local economy. The program will be offered through International Visitor Leadership Program under USA Department of State.

Few weeks ago, a Nikkei article explained that this USA company is looking for ways to house travelers in the growing number of homes left empty in Japan as the population declines, its manager for the country told Nikkei Asia.

Visitor arrivals in Japan reached 2.52 million in October, the Japan National Tourism Organization reported, topping pre-pandemic levels for the first time since the relaxation of border controls last year. Airbnb Japan said its bookings in the 12 months ending in September rose 75% from four years earlier, just before the COVID pandemic.

It says that this year, Airbnb donated 150 million yen ($1 million) to the Japan Kominka Association, which seeks to preserve such dwellings. Of particular interest to Airbnb are traditional folk houses, known as kominka, which appeal to foreign tourists seeking authentic experiences.

Airbnb, which operates a platform to match travelers with hosts offering lodging, does not intend to acquire empty houses or subsidize renovations. Rather, it is working with other businesses and local governments to encourage owners of empty homes to convert them into tourist accommodations, according to this article.

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