Ahn Hee-jung, governor of Chungnam Province, on Friday signed an agreement with global room-sharing service Airbnb to cooperate on providing accommodations to visitors attending Korea’s 97th National Sports Festival. Airbnb’s Director of Public Policy for the Asia Pacific Region, Mike Orgill, represented the company at the ceremony. The ceremony also included several prominent bed-and-breakfast owners in the province.
The signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines a many-part agreement in which both the provincial government and the room-sharing service will work to encourage the use of Airbnb by travelers going to the region when they are looking for a local room in which to stay during the sports event, and also promote local culture and tourism attractions to them. It also has the more far-reaching goal of improving the quality of the tourism and homestay facilities in the rural areas of the province in general using big data, and permanently making information about them accessible to a much wider international audience.
The Governor of Chungnam said the MOU was a dynamic approach to tourism and another way his administration was encouraging locals to be part of the National Sports Festival. “This MOU not only meets our current need for accommodation and tourism infrastructure but also creates a new era of tourism industry and economic pattern in the long run.” Governor Ahn also noted, “We hope that our mutual cooperation instigates improvement of the local economy as well as increased income for locals.”
Governor Ahn addressed the attending local businessmen by saying, “With help from Airbnb, more Koreans and foreign travelers will be staying at your homes and eating local foods with you in the state of Chungnam.”
He also added, “Airbnb is democratizing the travel industry where it has long been dominated by large hotel chains. It has to change, and Airbnb is enabling regular people and village folks here to make extra income while providing authentic hospitality to visitors from home and abroad.”
Airbnb’s Mike Orgill said that the governor was setting a foundation for the most successful National Sports Festival yet and that Airbnb looked forward to promoting Korean rural tourism to our host and guest community around the world. “Last year alone, more than 41 million guests stayed with Airbnb somewhere around the world. Through our partnership more tourists at home and abroad will be able to visit rural villages, and each rural village in Korea will become a unique travel destination with its own story.”
Airbnb lists 17,000 properties for rent within South Korea alone as of June 1, 2016. Approximately 559,000 guests have come to Korea and stayed in Airbnb locations within the country so far, and 958,000 Koreans have used the service to find places to stay all around the world.