By JIRAPAN BOONNOON
Joe Gebbia, Airbnb’s co-founder, said the new category had been added to the firm’s other two core areas, the home category and the “places” category. The new category brings unique local experiences, insider guides and events designed and led by locals to guests staying with Airbnb.
He said the aim was to provide new and unique experiences to visitors who wanted to meet local people and experience their culture and nightlife.
The firm aims to help diversify tourism away from busy urban centres by providing a way for locals to make extra money by sharing their passions. More than 800 “experiences” are now available in more than 13 cities around the world including Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo, with more than 50 cities due to join the category by the end of this year.
“Thailand is an important and fast-growing market for Airbnb, with a 149-per-cent increase in the number of Thais using the service to travel in the past year alone,” Gebbia said. “And the appetite is not only for travelling on Airbnb. There has been a 93-per-cent year-on-year increase in the number of Thais wanting to share their homes. There are now around 43,223 homes in Thailand participating with Airbnb.”
He said around 10,000 homes in Bangkok were collaborating with Airbnb, while the number of participating homes in Chiang Mai province was exhibiting the highest growth in the country.
The top four tourist destinations in Thailand are Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Koh Samui. Bangkok and Chiang Mai are known for their mix of modernity and rich art heritage. Koh Samui and Phuket are known for their pristine beaches providing a reprieve for many travellers.
Gebbia said the average stay of Airbnb customers was five days. More than 364,000 Thai users have booked a trip on Airbnb since the company began in 2008. Meanwhile, around 774,000 international travellers coming from countries such as China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany over the past year booked their accommodations in Thailand via Airbnb.
The firm now has 65,000 cities in 191 countries listing homes with Airbnb. It has more than 3 million listings worldwide.
“Asia is an exciting destination due to its melting pot of cultures and traditions – it is our fastest-growing region in terms of inbound travel, with 177-per-cent year-on-year growth, he said.
There were 10.8 million guest arrivals to Asia in 2016, a figure that excludes Australia and New Zealand.