The pandemic caused an unprecedented 70 percent hit to global tourism1, followed by a profound shift in how and when people traveled. As people became less tethered and more flexible, they were traveling anytime, to more places, and staying longer.
Even as people return to cities and their favorite overseas destinations post-pandemic, we’re seeing these trends of more distributed travel persist, to the benefit of smaller cities, small towns and off-the-beaten-path urban neighborhoods.
Distributed travel is sustainable, affordable, boosts local economies and local jobs, and immerses people in these communities–whereas traditional travel tends to concentrate tourism economically and geographically, causing overcrowding, congestion and tensions between people and the places they’re visiting.
With this report, Airbnb is releasing new data on how the platform is supporting more sustainable, more affordable, more immersive travel by dispersing guests and benefits within cities and beyond oversaturated tourist hotspots to new and trending communities with few or no hotels, where our Hosts are the primary—if not the only—providers of local accommodation and drivers of local tourism.
Dispersing travel through Airbnb
In 2022, US Hosts on Airbnb welcomed more than 44 million guest arrivals to areas where there are no hotels2, generating more than $10.5 billion in Host earnings and still more in economic activity driven by guest spending3, based on a first-ever analysis of Airbnb and OpenStreetMap4 data. These are economic benefits circulating in communities that may not exist if not for Airbnb listings providing the opportunity for guests to stay and spend in local diners, shops, tours, museums, and attractions across these smaller cities and towns.
According to data studied by Airbnb, in 2022, listings existed with no hotel presence in approximately 65 percent of US Census tracts5. Meaning, guests have the ability to travel to many more places by using Airbnb, as compared to hotels that traditionally are located in higher-trafficked areas.
Travel dispersal creates microeconomies
During the pandemic, Airbnb helped to support many small cities and towns through guests who may not have visited were it not for the presence of Airbnb listings. We believe guest spending in these areas has created important microeconomics. In fact, since the pandemic began, over 2,100 US cities and towns have received their first Airbnb booking6.
As part of the report, we’re also releasing the top-booked US cities and towns7 with their first Airbnb booking this year.
Top-booked US cities and towns with their first Airbnb booking in Q1 2023
- Bailey, NC
- Independence, WI
- Fort Branch, IN
- Pine Level, NC
- Des Allemands, LA
- Seneca, IL
- Rockdale, WI
- Windsor, SC
- Ulen, IN
- Pulaski, MI
We’ve seen decreasing dominance of the traditionally top 10 most-visited cities on Airbnb globally, which accounted for 7 percent of all trips in 2022, compared to 10 percent in 2019. We’ve also seen increased non-urban travel, which accounted for the highest growth in supply and demand in nights booked in 2022 compared to 2019—the last full pre-pandemic travel year.
As travel spreads to new places, we continue to work with policymakers and local governments toward fair regulations that balance the benefits of home sharing with the unique needs of each community.
Urban renaissance: City nights spike
As we put the pandemic behind us, more travelers are returning to cities on Airbnb. We have seen a renewed interest in urban travel, with a 20 percent increase in high-density urban nights booked on Airbnb in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022. And nearly half of nights booked in Q1 2023 globally were in high-density urban destinations.
Airbnb offers urban travelers many options outside of traditional tourist districts, often at a more affordable price.
San Diego census tracts with hotels vs. census tracts with Airbnbs
In San Diego, nearly 75 percent of the city’s Census tracts8 are home to Airbnb listings but no hotel presence, showing that Airbnb is helping to disperse travel beyond high-traffic areas and tourism hubs. And when it comes to affordability, Average Daily Rate (ADR) for Airbnb listings in areas with no hotels were about 15 percent lower than areas with hotels, offering more affordable stays in more communities across the city.
Chicago census tracts with hotels vs. census tracts with Airbnbs
In Chicago, Airbnb listings in areas without hotels represent about 70 percent of the city’s Census tracts with the ADR for Airbnb listings in areas without hotels more than 25 percent lower than areas with hotels.
Tech-driven solutions help disperse travel
Airbnb wants to help cities navigate the challenges associated with the growth of tourism and is investing in tech-driven solutions to help. New data demonstrates the continued positive impact of Airbnb’s flexible search features on diverting bookings away from cities’ most saturated tourist hotspots in support of more sustainable travel trends. Around one in 20 stays on Airbnb are currently booked using flexible search features. For example, analyses of the following cities show users who booked stays using the flexible search features, are more likely to stay in the outskirts and less likely to book in the tourist neighborhoods compared with traditional bookers.
- In Toronto, for example, flexible bookers are less likely to book downtown in Spadina-Fort York and Toronto Centre (nearly 15% less likely) and more likely to stay outside the downtown core (nearly 10% more likely).
- In Miami, flexible bookers are less likely to book in the city of Miami (nearly 10% less likely) and more likely to stay within unincorporated Miami-Dade, outside the municipality boundary (more than 10% more likely).
- In San Diego, flexible bookers are less likely to book in District 3 encompassing the most popular areas, Del Mar, Solana beach and Encinitas (approximately 25% less likely) and more likely to stay outside of the city boundaries (more than 25% more likely).
Hosts and guests on our platform remain at the forefront of the evolving hospitality industry. And the end result is a healthier economy for communities and a tourism ecosystem reflective of how we travel now and in the future.