This study addresses a pioneer of the sharing economy in the tourism industry, Airbnb. The question answered is “(How) do Airbnb hosts reduce the environmental impact of their properties, and what is the role of Airbnb in this?”. This was answered through researching Airbnb from the supply side on two layers – Airbnb as the platform provider, and Airbnb hosts as the providers of their properties. The answer was found through an analysis of questionnaires filled out by Airbnb hosts and content analysis of Airbnb’s official website, user-generated data on two platforms, and listings in Amsterdam. Results show whether and how these two actors engage in environmentally sustainable practices to reduce the negative environmental footprint caused by Airbnb’s existence and use. Possibilities to expand these practices were found and are further elaborated in the discussion. The study found that Airbnb’s current level of interference in reducing the environmental impact caused by users of the platform is low, while some hosts take measures to address this environmental impact voluntarily. The suggestions show a large potential to increase Airbnb’s role in environmental sustainability in tourism. Since further expansion of Airbnb is expected, its environmental impact needs to be addressed.
Author: M.A. Winter (2017)