The carbon footprint of Airbnb is likely bigger than you think

12 May 2021

Article by Professor Sara DolnicarFollow on Twitter
Mingming Cheng, Curtin University and Guangwu Chen, UNSW

holiday home with a hand holding mobile phone with Airbnb app open.
Airbnb accounts for 4% of Australia’s total housing stock. Image by InstagramFOTOGRAFIN from Pixabay

In its 13 years of existence, Airbnb has grown from a minnow to a whale in holiday accommodation. Today, it offers more than 5.6 million active listings across 220 countries and regions. In Australia, Airbnb lists 346,581 spaces — that’s 4% of Australia’s total housing stock.

Tourists often perceive Airbnb as having a relatively small environmental footprint compared with other forms of holiday accommodation. Airbnb reinforces this view, saying “home sharing promotes more efficient use of existing resources and is a more environmentally sustainable way to travel”.

But our study, published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, suggests Airbnb has a bigger carbon footprint than many realise.

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