And finally… make yourself at home

And finally... make yourself at home

Airbnb is looking to capitalise on a growing swathe of empty homes in Japan, hoping to convince owners to remodel the vacant homes into tourist attractions.

The accommodation platform hopes to partner with businesses and local governments to encourage homeowners to invest in renovations.

“It can be a good source of income after people retire as our lifetime gets longer. If the owners of idle assets refurbish them and convert them into lodgings, that would be a solution,” Airbnb’s head of Japan, Yasuyuki Tanabe, told Nikkei.

“The number of akiya is increasing and expected to increase further. Many of them are too good to be abandoned. There are also safety risks if they are left unkept,” Tanabe added.

Japan has some 8.49 million akiya, or unoccupied homes, according to the government’s Housing and Land Survey in 2018. The survey is conducted every five years.

Many of these homes have been abandoned as Japan’s population shrinks and ages, and are typically spread out across rural areas.

Some villages have turned into ghost towns of houses covered in overgrowth as residents leave for major urban hubs.

With no one living in these homes, there’s little incentive for owners to maintain them, since the buildings themselves typically don’t retain much value.

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