by WRAL TechWire — June 8, 2021 .
Airbnb will partner with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to design and run an Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy for EBCI community members, where members can receive hands-on training and access to a variety of tools.
The company is also collaborating with the North Carolina Rural Center, according to a statement shared with WRAL TechWire.
The program includes digital skills building, mentorship from existing Airbnb hosts, marketing support, and professional photography.
The goal is to drive success as travel increases during a return to summer travel as rural regions work to recover from the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Airbnb says it wants to empower communities to benefit from the return of travel, after the company found that rural travel accounts for 28% of all booked nights on its platform, which connects guests and hosts for lodging and experiences.
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“The Western North Carolina mountains the EBCI calls home serve as the perfect landscape for this venture, offering scenic beauty, natural landscapes, and a wealth of outdoor activities,” said Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed. “I look forward to seeing what our community members do with the information provided by this training series and hope to grow our relationship with Airbnb for future endeavors.”
“The Smoky Mountains are a special part of the world and we know more people than ever want to visit,” said Chris Lehane, Airbnb Global Head of Policy and Communications. “Our goal is to make sure as much of the economics generated by this travel stays in the community and has a multiplier effect within the community.”
According to Lehane, Airbnb data shows that its guests are seeking rural locations with proximity to state and national parks. “With their proximity to Great Smoky Mountains Park, the EBCI are uniquely situated to tap into this travel trend and grow the economics from the travel pie,” said Lehane.
A recent digital tool developed by the Office of Rural Economic Development at the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the NC Main-to-Main Trail, features the western part of the state, as does the VisitNC website, encouraging travelers to visit western North Carolina.
Despite the pandemic, tourism in North Carolina resulted in nearly $20 billion in spending in the state, with virtually all travel coming domestically, from about 37 million visitors. Yet, according to research released as preliminary findings by the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics in early May 2021, the Tar Heel State saw a 26.6 percent decrease in generated federal, state, and local taxes due to visitor spending in the state during 2020, and direct tourism-industry employment dropped 26.4 percent with approximately 64,760 jobs lost in the industry during 2020.
Airbnb stated it will place focus on assisting individuals with low-to-moderate incomes and communities with limited resources as a part of the development of its Entrepreneurship Academy programs.
Original Source: WRAL TechWire