TOKYO -- Airbnb and the coastal city of Kamaishi in northeastern Japan signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday to join hands on tourism promotion, marking the first such partnership in the country for the American facilitator of short-term home rentals.
With the Iwate Prefecture city slated to serve as a venue for the Rugby World Cup in 2019, the hope is to boost paid hosting of travelers at private residences, a practice known as minpaku in Japan. Within the year, Airbnb and the municipal government will choose minpaku promoters and hold seminars to encourage residents to register as Airbnb hosts. The city plans to include minpaku in a tourism program to launch in March 2017.
Progress has been slow on a legal framework for minpaku amid friction among parties involved, including the hotel industry. Airbnb hopes to work with the Japanese government on the issue, said co-founder Joe Gebbia, who attended the signing ceremony.