Airbnb has donated £1.25 million to English Heritage to help its conservation work and ‘boost heritage tourism’.
The donation follows the July launch of Airbnb’s new historical homes category and increased interest in traditional and historic places to stay. According to Airbnb, bookings for historical homes doubling in 2022 compared to 2019.
The donation is also part of a broader Airbnb project to enhance the cultural heritage promoted by the platform. It has recently donated towards heritage organisations in Spain and Italy – and also has a Healthy Tourism Commitment, which it says is ‘to support a sustainable recovery of tourism across the UK’.
Amanda Cupples, General Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb commented:
“We 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. We hope that more historical home owners, from owners of cottages, to barns and even traditional oast houses will consider the financial and cultural benefits of restoring buildings and welcoming guests into their homes.”
English Heritage looks after more than 400 historic sites across England, from Stonehenge to Hadrian’s Wall (pictured), Dover Castle to the York Cold War Bunker.
Kate Mavor, the charity’s Chief Executive, said:
“Support like Airbnb’s is vital to protect the great stone circles and castles, abbeys and historic houses in our care. It is thanks to support like this that the charity is spending more money than ever before conserving sites for the benefit of the public – right across England.”
However, with alarm being raised by housing campaigners over what a sharp rise in Airbnb properties in parts of the UK means for local residents seeking homes, the charity’s acceptance of the donation has been questioned by Will McMahon, Director of Action on Empty Homes. In a piece in The Guardian, he said that in his view, Airbnb was making donations in an attempt to offset the negative publicity it has received, calling the donation to English Heritage ‘a sort of cultural greenwashing’.