Published on Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Airbnb, World Bank sign MoU to enhance rural tourism

Big hotels didn't work for it so World Bank sees another opportunity to get its big muscles to mass up and commoditize tourism

The World Bank group and Airbnb have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to use their combined efforts to "boost the tourism industries of developing economies"at the World Bank's Tourism Knowledge Exchange 2017

The World Bank effectively washed its hands of tourism in the a couple of decades ago after it assisted countries to develop high density mass tourism as a condition of aid in the 1970's and 1980s. Destinations that got the World Bank treatment then included: Tunisia, Bali, Morocco, Kenya and The Gambia, The bank still has some $4billion of hotel investments left over from their heavy-duty tourism development years.

Now it appears that the bank is applying its muscle to another method for big-scale development. 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 organisations 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. They are also looking to introduce the initiative to other countries.

"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," said Clark Stevens, Director, Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at Airbnb.

Said the World Bank - Travel and tourism is the largest service industry in the world and accounts for nearly 10 percent of the global GDP. In 2015, revenues from international tourism represented USD 421 million in emerging economies.

Emerging markets' share of total global arrivals is expected to reach 57 percent by 2030. This corresponds to over one billion travelers, each spending money, transferring wealth, and creating jobs.

"This partnership with Airbnb allows us to better understand 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.

Will this partnership will be more beneficial than the World Bank's 1970's efforts when it created the mass tourism geography we know today with few benefits for destinations or tourists, critical areas of seething inequality and unrest and a number of terrorism hotspots?

Valere Tjolle




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