Airbnb donates a lumpsum to English Heritage to ‘boost heritage tourism

 Saturday, October 22, 2022 

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English Heritage has accepted a £1.25m donation from Airbnb to support its bid to “boost heritage tourism” and to continue the conservation of the UK’s most important historical attractions and houses.

The donation to the charity, which acts as a custodian to the country’s architectural legacy, follows the launch of the rental giant’s new historical homes category in July, which includes listings for historic places in which to stay.

Airbnb has come under criticism recently after new figures revealed there had been a sharp rise in the number of Airbnb listings in coastal areas of England and Wales, prompting fears of “theme parks for the wealthy”.

Housing campaigners say the trend indicates landlords in popular holiday spots may be favouring tourists over tenants at a time when many communities are being hit by rising living costs.

But the Silicon Valley company said the donation was part of a broader project designed to “enhance the cultural heritage” promoted by the platform.

It said bookings for historical homes on its platform had doubled since 2019. Its own data suggests that, last year, over 90% of bookings were from local UK residents seeking homes in more remote rural locations.

Family travel made up one in every four of these bookings in the first half of 2022.

Amanda Cupples, Airbnb’s northern Europe general manager said that they are proud to be making a contribution to English Heritage that will benefit both local communities and tourists so they can enjoy England’s rich cultural history, including hidden gems in some of the less-visited rural areas and countryside.

Kate Mavor CBE, chief executive at English Heritage, said they were very grateful for the donation saying that English Heritage is an independent charity and support like Airbnb’s is vital to protect the great stone circles and castles, abbeys and historic houses in their care.

Airbnb donates £1.25m to English Heritage to ‘boost heritage tourism’

Housing campaigner says rental giant’s donation is a ‘cultural greenwashing’ to offset their poor publicity over the housing crisis

Stonehenge in Derbyshire is one of many English Heritage properties that could benefit from Airbnb’s donation.

English Heritage manages more than 400 historic sites across England, from Stonehenge to Hadrian’s Wall, Dover Castle to the York Cold War Bunker, and as a registered charity, relies on donation support to protect the future of these iconic sites.

But Will McMahon, director of the charity Action on Empty Homes, who coordinated an Action on Short Lets campaign, questioned whether English Heritage should be accepting a donation from Airbnb.

Airbnb’s donation seems to serve one purpose – it is a sort of cultural greenwashing for what has become an investment platform taking homes out of residential use and worsening their housing crisis, he said.

He added that Airbnb clearly has a strategic understanding of their own vulnerabilities and in my view are making corporate donations to offset the poor publicity they are now receiving countrywide due to short lets impacting on long-standing local communities in city, coast and countryside alike.

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