Air BnB ap­points Am­bas­sadors in Fiji

for ru­ral tourism, Airbnb ap­points Am­bas­sadors in Fiji

mailife - - Content - Words & Images by PRIYA SINGH

In July 2017, I woke up to a news ar­ti­cle which five months later, would lead me to an in­valu­able im­pact role for com­mu­ni­ties at home in Fiji. The news ar­ti­cle an­nounced Airbnb en­ter­ing into a part­ner­ship with the World Bank to boost ru­ral tourism - a move that was made to close the eco­nomic gap between ru­ral and ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­larly in de­vel­op­ing na­tions. For those who are un­fa­mil­iar with Airbnb, it is a web­site that al­lows ev­ery­day peo­ple to host guests at their homes and earn an in­come while do­ing so. By cre­at­ing a list­ing on the web­site, Airbnb hosts can wel­come guests into a pri­vate room, a shared room or their en­tire house if un­used for a pe­riod of time. The web­site is flex­i­ble so hosts are able to man­age their own cal­en­dars for when their space is avail­able for guests - even if this is just a few weeks a year! The or­gan­i­sa­tion is head­quar­tered in San Fran­cisco and since 2008 has had more than 3 mil­lion peo­ple list their prop­er­ties on the web­site. I knew first­hand from my own trav­els around the world, that a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple were be­gin­ning to chase lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing their hol­i­days. I per­son­ally had used to Airbnb many times to live in the homes of lo­cals for a truer

ex­pe­ri­ence of the city, town or vil­lage I was ex­plor­ing. From a cot­tage in an Ital­ian vil­lage to an apart­ment in the heart of Paris, I had a home wher­ever I roamed. It was only nat­u­ral that af­ter read­ing the news ar­ti­cle on the World Bank part­ner­ship, I grew more ex­cited about the un­lock­ing the po­ten­tial that Airbnb had for fam­i­lies back home in Fiji. In De­cem­ber 2017, I was ap­pointed as an Am­bas­sador for Airbnb for the Pa­cific Is­lands along with Allen Price, who was also born and raised in Suva. To­gether, we have been tasked with grow­ing the host com­mu­nity in the Pa­cific Is­lands and nat­u­rally we have de­cided to start at home in Fiji. Airbnb is the go-to place for trav­ellers who are look­ing for offthe-beaten path ex­pe­ri­ences and with our di­verse land­scape and rich cul­ture; this pre­sents thou­sands of fam­i­lies across the coun­try with an op­por­tu­nity to share the ben­e­fits of grow­ing in­ter­est in tourism. In the spirit of the World Bank part­ner­ship, our goal as am­bas­sadors is to help as many Fiji home-own­ers as pos­si­ble to cre­ate list­ings on the Airbnb web­site and wel­come guests into their homes — list­ing is free of cost and Airbnb sim­ply takes 3% of your earn­ings when you earn by host­ing a guest. Our ser­vices as Am­bas­sadors are ab­so­lutely free and we will be help­ing those in­ter­ested to not only cre­ate their list­ing on the web­site but also pro­vid­ing guides on how to use the Airbnb app and how to host guests suc­cess­fully and re­spon­si­bly. It has been heart­en­ing to see the up­take of Airbnb among the home­own­ers we have spo­ken to in Fiji. In early Jan­uary, I helped Fane from Naitasiri set up her Airbnb List­ing — a pri­vate room in her fam­ily home. Within a week, Fane wel­comed her first guests! “They were a Jewish cou­ple from Amer­ica. They are vege­tar­i­ans and asked me to cook din­ner for the two nights they were here with us, which I did for an af­ford­able ex­tra cost. The good thing about Airbnb is that you only need to pro­vide a room with a bed and fresh sheets, so I was able to charge a lit­tle ex­tra for their meals when they asked. On the first night I made roti with dhal, pump­kin curry and fried bean. On the sec­ond night I made them Fijian food — rourou cooked with fresh co­conut milk and eg­g­plant deep fried with uto and taro. Both were sim­ple meals and they loved it. We also took them for a swim in the river and for a drive up the road just as an ex­tra for some sight see­ing”, Fane told me. When asked about the ex­pe­ri­ence of host­ing on Airbnb for the first time, Fane re­ally lit up and glowed with en­thu­si­asm. “I re­ally loved it and en­joyed host­ing. It is so ex­cit­ing! They were my first guests and it has opened my eyes to a new way in which I can make money to sup­port my fam­ily.” A key fea­ture of Airbnb is the two-sided review process whereby both the guest and the host review each other. I felt proud and happy to read the won­der­ful review left for Fane by her Amer­i­can guests: “We stayed two nights with Fane, Peter, and their fam­ily and ab­so­lutely loved it. The house is lo­cated about 10 km from Colo-i-Suva in beau­ti­ful ru­ral sur­round­ings, near a big river you can swim in (most prob­a­bly all to your­self), near a lo­cal vil­lage you can visit, and sur­rounded by many trees and flow­ers. The en-suite room was spa­cious, very com­fort­able, and well equipped. Fane is a great cook and very ac­com­mo­dat­ing for any diet. We re­ally en­joyed our din­ners there (for rea­son­able ex­tra cost). There are quite a few buses pass­ing in the main road, just 1 minute walk from the house that go to Suva, Colo-i-Suva, and else­where. If you pre­fer taxis, Peter is a taxi driver who knows the ar­eas very well. Stay­ing with Fane and Peter and learn­ing so much about the Fijian cul­ture was a unique ex­pe­ri­ence”, writes their guest Nava. More than 200 mil­lion peo­ple from around the world have used Airbnb to stay with lo­cal hosts and my hope is that ev­ery­one who owns a home and wants to earn ad­di­tional in­come while pur­su­ing their ca­reer and dreams will list any rooms they have avail­able on Airbnb.

To ac­cess free ser­vices from your Am­bas­sadors visit: Web­site: www.home­in­roam/airbnb Face­book: www.face­­in­roam

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