Airbnb has embraced the mainstream tourism industry, by becoming a member of the UN World Tourism Organization.
The membership represents a significant step for both the accommodation sharing company and for the UNWTO, as it reflects the changing nature of the industry. Once considered a disruptive force, Airbnb is now becoming an established player in the accommodation sector.
Airbnb joins UNWTO’s 157 member states and 480+ affiliate members, which including private sector companies, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.
The company will now participate in the UNWTO seminar on ‘New Business Models’, which is taking place in Lithuania as part of the 60th Meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe.
“From Cuba to Cape Town, Airbnb is helping to grow and diversify tourism and democratise its benefits for more families, communities and local businesses,” said Chris Lehane, global head of public affairs at Airbnb.
“It’s a sustainable form of tourism that provides transformative travel by allowing people to live like a local. Airbnb guests don’t just go there they live there by staying in the homes of actual people; visiting the real neighbourhoods; and experiencing life the way a local does. We are excited to work with UNWTO and global leaders to harness the positive impacts of travel to activate new communities and bring the world a little closer together.”
Founded in 2008, Airbnb now features short-term rental accommodation in more than 34,000 cities across 191 countries. It has also set up a business travel programme.
“We welcome Airbnb as one of the newest UNWTO affiliate members,” said Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General. “The UNWTO affiliate members’ programme gathers representatives from a wide range of non-governmental organisations and are a key feature of UNWTO work.”