Tourism Vancouver agrees partnership with Airbnb in first deal of its kind

Canada: Airbnb has agreed a deal with Tourism Vancouver to promote the city in the first deal of its kind between a city and the short-term rental platform.

As part of the agreement, Airbnb will now actively promote the city as a tourist destination via its app, social media channels and print magazine, Airbnbmag. In addition, the company will also share its guest trends data with Tourism Vancouver.

Tourism Vancouver CEO Ty Speer said: “We always like to do new things that push the destination forward. Airbnb is a dynamic organisation and a great partner for us to be working with, so we think we’ll do some fun, interesting things that will be valuable to our visitors.”

Airbnb said it would work with Tourism Vancouver to “expand the variety and quality of licenced accommodation offerings in the city, providing visitors with diverse options to suit every budget and style”.

Speaking to Business in Vancouver, Speer said that would entail cooperative marketing, whereby each would be able to efficiently “match potential visitors with the appropriate accommodation and therefore convert them to actual visitors”.

Short-term rental accommodation has become a polemic issue in Vancouver this year with some people accusing the rental platform of using up potential rental-housing stock and fuelling the city’s soaring housing prices and rents as a result.

In April, the City of Vancouver implemented new regulations that allowed the city’s residents to list their home on Airbnb provided they have a business licence and the stay does not exceed 30 days. It forbids non-primary residences from being listed on Airbnb but permits homeowners to rent out rooms or the entire primary residence.

Homeowners and primary residents wishing to list their properties on Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms are required to pay a $49 annual licence fee and a one-off $54 application fee.

Those residents who fail to display their business licence number on the Airbnb platform face receiving a $1,000 daily fine.

Then-mayor Gregor Robertson said at the time that he hoped the updated rules would bring 1,000 housing units back into the long-term rental market.

The city estimated there were 6,600 short-term rental listings in Vancouver, with Airbnb accounting for more than 88 per cent of the city’s market.

Then, in September, the city released numbers showing that short-term rental listings had been cut by almost 50 per cent.

More than 400,000 visitors stayed at an Airbnb during their stay in the city in 2017, according to Tourism Vancouver figures. It added that this had generated upwards of $425 million in economic activity in the region.

Alex Dagg, director of public policy for Airbnb Canada, said: “This partnership serves as an important example of how destination marketing organisations and Airbnb can work together to support tourism and benefit local communities.”