Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, today launched a campaign calling on the Korean government to introduce a new law that would allow Koreans to share their homes with Korean domestic travelers.
The current law states that people living in urban cities who want to share their homes with travelers can only do so with foreign tourists, restricting accomodation options for Koreans traveling domestically.
Today, Airbnb began gathering signatures for a petition urging the government to change these rules. Emails have been sent to more than 100,000 members of the Airbnb community, asking hosts and guests to sign up and add their voice to the debate.
“Koreans are prolific users of Airbnb. Last year, more than 3 million Koreans chose to stay in an Airbnb listing when traveling,” said Sanghyun Lee, Head of Public Policy, Airbnb Korea. “We’re calling on the government to amend these rules so Koreans can enjoy the same unique and authentic travel experience at home, as they do abroad.”
The current law governing accommodation in urban residences allows private homes to be used for home sharing, but only for foreign nationals. The government introduced this new law in December 2011. Under the current rules, Korean nationals are only able to stay with locals in their homes in rural areas, farms and fishing villages designated for private lodging.
In addition to the growing demands of Korean domestic travelers, home sharing brings significant benefits to hosts and local communities. The big winners are local hosts, who earn vital additional income, and local communities, which benefit from increased tourism spend.
According to a recent survey, Airbnb hosts said that they use this additional income to support “rental fees”, “living expenses”, “loan payments” and “children’s tuition”. The survey results show that home sharing can raise individuals’ extra income and therefore increase consumption, potentially leading to “income-driven economic growth”, an idea advocated by the Korean government.
Airbnb host highlights
Seog Jung-eun (60), an Airbnb host in Seoul who began hosting after retirement, sees the ban on locals sharing their homes with domestic travelers as a key barrier to tourism in Korea. He explained, “Times have changed, and when families travel to Seoul to visit their relatives, they would rather stay in an Airbnb over a motel. I received some requests from locals who wanted to rent a room in my house, and they were hard to reject.”
“As the retired head of a household, hosting helps to reduce the financial burden on my children. I’m always happy to present my Airbnb business card when people ask me what I’m doing these days — the best thing is that there is no retirement in this business.”
Kim Jung-shin (49), an Airbnb host in Wonju, Gangwon Province, added that Airbnb has been an important source of supplemental income, “Foreigners rarely visit Gangwon, and I hope that we will be able to host local guests soon.”
For years, retired hosts and guests have been a growing and integral part of the Airbnb community. In particular, senior hosts (aged 60 and above) like Jung-eun are the fastest-growing host demographic on Airbnb in Korea. There are now over 400,000 senior hosts on Airbnb worldwide. In 2017, seniors all around the world hosted over 13.5 million guests from over 150 countries and earned over $2 billion, creating new economic opportunities in the homes and communities where they live.
Airbnb guest highlights
When her new home wasn’t ready and she needed a temporary place to stay, college student Kim Yu-yeon (23) immediately turned to Airbnb. She lived in a private room in her host’s home for a month. Kim shared, “I did not need a security deposit, and I was very satisfied with the price of 11,000-12,000 won a day.”
She too had heard about the law prohibiting Korean domestic travelers from residing in private homes, “Having heard about the law, I felt that my host could have been in trouble. The choice to stay in someone’s private home should be available to locals, too. In my case, I didn’t want to book a motel or hotel.”
An anonymous Airbnb host (39) in Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, echoes Kim’s sentiments, “I have hosted locals in my home for a few weeks when their houses were remodeled. As an Airbnb host, my wife and I take the opportunity to visit other neighbourhoods in Seoul when we let our rooms out to others. We’ve stayed in the Hongdae and East Incheon areas, which have a unique neighbourhood culture and interesting attractions. Each stay lasted a few days but left us with an unforgettable and enriching experience.”
In Airbnb’s global Office of Healthy Tourism report released in April this year, the company announced data illustrating the positive impact of home sharing in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries. The vast majority of guests say they chose Airbnb because they want to live like a local (79%). More than half of all guests globally (53%) said the money they saved using Airbnb was spent at local businesses, and almost half of all guest spending (44%) takes place in the communities where they stay.
In addition, 3 out of 4 Airbnb guests said that they chose Airbnb because home sharing has a positive impact on the environment, with significantly less energy and water used, as well as fewer greenhouse gases emitted. During the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games 2018, Airbnb hosted 15,000 guests — a 500% increase year over year and the equivalent of building 7,500 hotel rooms or 46 average-sized hotels* operating at full capacity.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where people can belong through healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable. Airbnb uniquely leverages technology to economically empower millions of people around the world to unlock and monetize their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs. Airbnb’s accommodation marketplace provides access to 5+ million unique places to stay in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries. With Experiences, Airbnb offers unprecedented access to local communities and interests through 15,000 unique, handcrafted activities run by hosts across 1,000+ markets around the world. Airbnb’s people-to-people platform benefits all its stakeholders, including hosts, guests, employees and the communities in which it operates.