Is it still ok to book an AirBnb?!

Overtourism has long become a buzzword. Cities, Islands, and entire countries are creaking under the weight of too many visitors. Locals’ lives change drastically as prices rise and an increasing amount of living space is allocated to accommodate tourists. Especially Airbnb has been the cause of uproar and anger for many locals suffering from over-tourism.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches
tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches
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As we try to become more responsible travelers and leave a positive impact, we wondering if it is still ok to book with Airbnb?

Admittedly, we loved staying at Airbnbs for the comfort and the low price. On top of that, we often had the chance to get to know the locals. Today there are more than 4 million listings on Airbnb worldwide. What started as an example of the sharing economy quickly became commercialized, with new rooms everywhere. With the commercialization and tremendous growth, the character and use changed drastically. The evolution of Airbnb has even entirely changed neighborhoods and impacted the daily lives of many.

Hopkins, Belize: Colorful house

Problems with Airbnbs

However, in recent years, we often stumble upon empty apartments whose sole purpose seems to be accommodating tourists. The owners were often foreigners who had bought the property as an investment. Staying in an Airbnb like this would ensure that our tourist dollars leave the country quickly, which is exactly what we are trying to avoid.
Adding to that, in most countries, Airbnbs aren’t subject to regulation. Hence, there are no taxes and no planning restrictions. However, today’s world, especially in developing countries, needs both—an income from taxes and control over the development of tourism.

Tobacco Caye, Belize: Reefs end

The bright side of Airbnb:

Not everything is black or white. While we understand the issues arising from Airbnb, there are definitely some advantages and upsides.
For one, Airbnb has acknowledged the arising problems and has committed to improving the situation, especially in areas suffering from over-tourism.
According to Airbnb’s study (studies can be read a million different ways), 31%-96% of Airbnb experiences occur outside the main tourist areas. Of course, there are enormous implications where Airbnb gets too commercialized, but in many places, it offers an easy tap into tourism for locals.

By booking an AirBnB owned by a local, you provide a revenue stream because profits from AirBnBs go directly to the host.
On top of that, unlike tourists visiting hotels, Airbnb guests are more likely to spend money with local stores. Therefore minimizing the tourism leakages and directly impacting the local economy.

Getting to know the locals

The perfect Airbnb is an exciting place to stay and contact locals. Local hosts can provide insight and knowledge of hidden gems and stories. According to Airbnb, 61 percent of recommendations are by a single host. This makes up for an incredible number of 1 Million unique experiences local Airbnb hosts provide.

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Can we still use Airbnb as a responsible traveler?

We’d say: yes! Airbnb can be a great experience, not just for you but also for the host. However, as with many things, making conscious decisions is vital.
Make sure to check out our guide on how to choose an Airbnb responsibly.

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