New Delhi/Colombo, Aug 16 : For online hospitality services platform Airbnb, the Indian market is of strategic importance as the company targets a global user-base of one billion by 2028 from the current 300 million, according to a company official.
"India is one of the key growth markets for us. It is also a strategic priority for the companyÂ…and teams across our global offices are working to create a lot of tools for India," Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb's Country Manager for India and Sri Lanka, told IANS.
Bajaj said that that the online service provider would continue to invest in the medium to long term in the Indian market and so far it provides services for around 100 cities in the country with over 35,000 properties.
He further said: "At a global scale, we want a billion people to have used Airbnb by 2028. If this number has to go from 300 million to 1 billion, you can't keep India out. India will contribute very heavily in this."
In the process of providing services in the country, the official said partnerships with tourism and other government departments play a major role. The company has tie-ups with the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation and the North East Tourism Development Council.
"Â…Our partnerships with state governments are in the direction to make sure that there is an Airbnb for everyone in the remotest part of India," Bajaj said, adding that the firm also has a partnership with the National Commission of Women for "creating more women entrepreneurs."
Bajaj said the company had a target of creating 50,000 hospitality entrepreneurs by 2020 in India out of which it wants at least 15,000 to be women. In the process of creating entrepreneurs in the travel and hospitality segment, the company's "Experiences" platform would play a major role, he said.
The specialised platform offers tourists local experiences such as adventure sports, cuisines, visit to small-scale industries including handicrafts among others in collaboration of local hosts and people having expertise in a particular craft, the company said.
The platform was launched in 2016 with 500 experiences across 12 cities globally and now the platform offers over 15,000 experiences in over 800 cities, Bajaj said.
The online platform last week announced a partnership with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority to provide tourists with local and traditional experiences in the country through the "Airbnb Experiences" platform.
Talking about the scope of the "experiences" platform in India, Bajaj said the service has been launched in Delhi and Goa so far and the response has been positive.
"Because Goa and Delhi were big markets in terms of Airbnb anyways, so we wanted to provide experiential services as well," Bajaj said.
In Goa the company started with 20-22 experiences around a month and a half back and now it has increased to 40, and in Delhi, it provides around 50-60 experiences, he said.
Regarding competition in the hospitality market and coming in of more players in the alternative accommodation segment, Bajaj was of the opinion that more players in the segment would only create more options for travellers and eventually benefit the industry.
"Till the time we are creating options for consumers, everyone in the industry will benefit."
(Rituraj Baruah was in Colombo on an invitation from Airbnb. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)