Airbnb to build 'hotels' in rural areas

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Inside the first Samara hotel
Inside the first Samara hotel

Related tags: Hotel

Spare room letting site Airbnb is to build a series of community hotels designed to draw tourists to rural areas.

The project is the brainchild of the company’s Samara design studio, which has unveiled its first site in Yoshino, Japan, this week.

The Yoshino Cedar House will be a bookable hotel run by local residents, with all proceeds used to strengthen the ‘cultural legacy and future’ of the town.

Airbnb said the venue was its first listing run ‘by and for the benefit of the local community’.

If successful the scheme could be rolled out to other countries, including the UK.

“The Yoshino Cedar House is just one seed among many,” said Airbnb founder Joe Gebbia. “Given the size and scale of the Airbnb community, the areas to explore are limitless.”

Changing tactics

The project follows a wave of backlash against the room sharing site, with critics arguing it is damaging local hotel businesses and pushing up rents by filling empty rooms with tourists.

STR Global estimates that over 25,000 London units are listed on the site,​ 52 per cent of which are entire homes.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) has called on the government to better regulate the site,​ claiming it allows its users to run potentially dangerous ‘pseudo hotels’ exempt from fire and safety regulations.

But Airbnb has denied its platform is unsafe, arguing that it gives consumers more 'choice' in a crowded tourism market.

The company’s CEO Brian Chesky sought to silence its critics in a blog post last year​ by promising to clamp down on users running ‘illegal hotels’ and pay a ‘fair share’ of hotel and tourism taxes in each city. 

Related topics: Business & Legislation, Openings, Hotel

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