Through the partnership, “Airbnb will work with the government to promote tourism that is local, authentic and sustainable,” said Thao Nguyen, Airbnb’s APAC Head of Strategic Partnerships.
Local experts will be able to offer individually curated experiences on Airbnb’s platform, allowing travellers to immerse themselves in the daily lives and unique cultural experiences of people across Sri Lanka. SLTDA and Airbnb will work together to onboard local hosts.
Speaking at the launch event, Country Manager of Airbnb India and Sri Lanka Amanpreet Bajaj noted that Airbnb Experiences are encouraging people to become micro entrepreneurs who “can start earning a livelihood out of their passions or hobbies”. He stated that top Experiences hosts globally are earning over $100,000 per year.
“The government is interested in tourism for two reasons: FX earned and jobs created,” said SLTDA Chairman Kavan Ratnayaka. He emphasized that Airbnb has a lot of potential to help the future of the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. He added, “We are not interested in mass tourism. We want to do it in an authentic, sustainable way. Our value proposition is that we can do it in a compact space.”
With a focus on launching an aspirational future for local people, Airbnb Experiences also includes Social Impact Experiences, where Airbnb does not take any fees. An example of this in Sri Lanka is the Selyn Fair Trade Experience, where all proceeds go to the non-profit organization, Selyn Foundation, to benefit the local community.
In Sri Lanka, Airbnb Experiences launched with 40+ bookable experiences, including surfing lessons in Mirissa, heritage trails around Galle Fort and a safari experience at Minneriya Park. Since its launch in 2016, Airbnb Experiences has grown from 500 experiences across 12 cities to over 15,000 experiences in more than 800 cities.