Airbnb plans to make inroads in untapped rural regions in India

India: Airbnb plans to expand its partnership with state tourism boards and government bodies in India and target untapped rural locations for its platform.

The company has been operating in India for three years and it has so far signed memorandums of understanding with the tourism departments of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

It has partnered with several government agencies in the North East, including the North Eastern Council (NEC) and North East Tourism Development Council (NETDC), with the goal of increasing awareness of short-term rentals in the region.

Speaking to the Financial Daily, Airbnb India country manager, Mint Amanpreet Bajaj, said: “Government partnerships have been one of the key foundational pieces for our brand in India. We want to scale up our presence and go deeper in these states and we are also looking (for more partnerships) with other states.

“Our MoU with the governments and creating more awareness around homestays is critical for our success,” he added.

Airbnb is now looking into rural areas where there are limited numbers of hotel chains and it has been leading workshops on home-sharing accommodation and skill development programmes on hospitality, through partnerships with the Indian government.

The company believes that the partnerships with the government and tourism departments will help to open up the potential for homestays in North East India.

Bajaj said: “The idea is to create a homestay ecosystem, bring more homestays into the global platform, conduct multiple workshops to skill people around hospitality and share best practices from across the world in terms of how homestays operate.”

At present, around 40,000 homes are listed with Airbnb in 100 cities in India. Goa represents the largest market in the country with around 6,200 listings and Bajaj is now planning to make inroads in the rural areas of India.

Airbnb is conducting awareness programmes around short-term rentals in association with the Maharashtra government, as part of a pilot project in places such as Sindhudurg, a district in Maharashtra, and other popular tourist attractions like Ellora Caves.