The Airbnb boss sees potential in rural Canada

Formerly lesser-known corners are attracting more and more tourists, according to the Airbnb president. (Photo: 123RF)

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Airbnb saw its business slow to an all-time high, with the rental housing giant inundated with calls for cancellations, leading to 1,900 layoffs.

But in the shadow of this dismal cloud, the company’s senior boss, Brian Chesky, has noticed clearance operations in parts of Canada that rarely attract swarms of tourists that could be seen in Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal.

“Because people were not able to cross the border, they were forced to make a decision about whether to stay at home or travel to their country, which has really pushed people to rediscover the country in which they live,” said Mr. Round table earlier this week.

This means city dwellers who have typically traveled to the United States or Europe or even hop in a car and head to rural areas within hours of their homes. Mr Chesky believes this trend has taken hold, boosting tourism in small communities.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco, California-based company sees business booming in the US thanks to a massive immunization campaign and the recent announcement from the European Union that wants to welcome American tourists who were vaccinated early this summer.

In Canada, it’s another story, he admits. The past two weeks have been marked by calls for tightening borders, bans on flights from India and Pakistan, and new directives restricting some travel between provinces.

A large portion of the country remains confined, awaiting progress in vaccination efforts.

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“The recovery in Canada is quite slower,” says Chesky. Canadians are more reluctant to travel. “

He notes that those who wish to travel tend to be older and already vaccinated. The country saw an almost 50% increase in Airbnb searches for summer stays by customers 60 and over in March compared to February.

Airbnb has noticed a recent rise in the number of people looking for spring and summer rentals in Queens, Shetecamp and West Hunts, Nova Scotia; In Mount Caledonia, New Brunswick; Danville, Newfoundland. Naramata, Telegraph Cove and Okanagan Falls are also popular in British Columbia as well as Louiseville in Quebec.

“Travel is changing, moving from the same 20 or 30 cities to everywhere,” says Chesky.

These days, country home owners make up 20% of Canadian hosts on Airbnb, and they’ve grossed $ 217.1 million in revenue since the start of the pandemic, he says.

However, the platform has faced significant challenges in recent years. The business faces new regulations that sometimes require hosts to live on the properties they list and register with the authorities. A battle has also been launched against users who are renting out loud party spaces.

The company has set up a 24-hour hotline to receive complaints, a maximum occupancy of 16 people has been established, and the new policy requires that guests under the age of 25 receive good hotel reviews. The entire residence is in their area.

Overnight reservations for entire homes on New Years Eve and Halloween have been banned, while 40 properties in Ontario and 45 other properties in Montreal have been suspended from the platform.

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“We are working hard,” says Chesky. But we’re in 100,000 communities, so I don’t want to assume we’ll always be perfect. “

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