The Community Prosperity Foundation is a charity run by Stayzia.com, that is dedicated to working with communities to help them offset the impacts of tourism, second homes and problems with an excess of short-term accommodation. The bottom of this page provides further information on our focus and aims as a charity, with some examples of how funding decisions might be made by the charity with a view to achieving community benefit.
In all cases we will work closely with each community to determine the optimum strategy and activities in their best interests. At present we are working closely with Cornwall and Devon, so have two community engagement groups for local residents.
i. The Community Fund
80% of all revenue received by Stayzia will be paid directly as a donation to a not-for-profit charity, the Community Prosperity Foundation. The Community Prosperity Foundation is a charity bound to its constitution, requiring it to support the local community around the host's region with achieving social, economic and environmental sustainability. The fund will be divided up into geographical regions, with data provided publicly on the total funding raised in each region and some data on how that funding is allocated. Depending on how much funding is available in each community fund at the end of the year, we will endeavour to allocate funding to benefit areas and towns as close as possible to where bookings were made through Stayzia. For example, as the financial projections show, supplanting Airbnb in Cornwall could generate around £14 million per year for Cornwall’s community fund. We can therefore look at the key towns and areas where bookings are made or tourism impacts are felt, within Cornwall, when allocating this funding. Over time, large towns or cities (e.g., Exeter, Plymouth, Falmouth and St Ives) may generate enough funding to have their own fund more accurately measured and directly allocated.
The total funding in each community fund is calculated at the end of each annual period, after which it will be allocated towards offsetting tourism impacts and improving sustainability in the year following. The funds will be allocated in a mix between grants, loans and equity investment, depending on the needs and available opportunities in each region. In most cases, we will ensure that we consult closely with economists and expert investment managers in the efficient allocation and maintenance of community funds. It will likely involve a split of funding, with half of the funding going towards grants, with the other half being invested on behalf of the community. However, we intend to keep flexibility within the system, to enable us to make the most effective use of the money, considering the short, medium and long term. Any profits generated from money that is invested through property acquisition, loans or equity will be returned into that community’s fund, for use again by the community in future years. The aim would be to generate a significant long-term source of funding to support communities with tourism-related social, economic and environmental sustainability.
The community fund is all managed through our charity, the Community Prosperity Foundation, and housed on our site, Stayzia.org. This site will eventually feature information, guidance and data on the funding generated and how that funding is allocated. It will also advise communities on potential grants and funding that can be applied for and the processes to follow. The following subsections provide further details on the types of elements that are included in the Community Benefit Charter, which will guide funding decisions.
The funding decisions will be made not just with reference to the Community Benefit Charter, as well as key advisors and experts, but also with reference to Community Advisory Networks (CANs) created in each region (currently two regions covered: Sustainable Tourism for Cornwall and Sustainable Tourism for Devon). Stayzia will work closely with residents, by actively engaging where possible and through the relevant CAN, in determining the specific needs and concerns of local residents. These networks should increase the sense of ownership among community members with regard to the community fund expenditure. Over time, we could explore different governance structures for the CANs, perhaps with a view to potentially enabling the community to manage their funds autonomously. However, this would need to be done carefully to ensure that the community's interests are best served, that there are robust democratic processes in place and that all voices throughout the community continue to be fairly heard.
The following list of components within our Community Benefit Charter are based on extensive research across the growing expanse of literature exploring the phenomena, impacts and challenges of “overtourism” in different destinations around the world. There is a slight hierarchy between the components, with the level of focus decreasing as we move down the list (e.g., housing and employment are more important concerns to sustainable tourism, at present, than cultural or natural heritage protection). Yet, it is recognised that some communities may benefit from some developments more than others, although in the main all of the following components will be relevant for high-tourism regions. It is noteworthy that Stayzia.org aims place greater or equal emphasis on social and economic sustainability, given that these are often under-appreciated aspects of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Environmental sustainability will, however, become increasingly prominent within its activities over time and Stayzia remains committed to leading the way in driving sustainability across the travel sector.
ii. Access to Safe, Affordable and Comfortable Housing
One of the most common complaints about the impacts of online travel agencies (OTAs) targeted at homes has been the dearth of housing available in local markets, both to rent and for sale. It is well-known, in every corner of the world, that this ever-decreasing supply has also thereby driven up prices, such that local residents are being forced to pay hugely inflated rents or house prices. In many cases, this has been reported as having a significant and harmful impact on those residents’ financial circumstances. For most in the ‘younger’ generation (Gen Z and Millennials), as well as others on low to average salaries, it is often reported that home ownership is something of a pipe dream. The housing stock is already taken up by those who benefited when housing was affordable or those who are fortunate enough to afford a second home which they rarely visit. All the while, the generations coming through are paying highly inflated rental costs.
It is well known that a significant cause of the housing crisis, in numerous tourism destinations around the world, has been the explosion of low-regulation short-term rental platforms (principally Airbnb). It is frequently reported about the significant number of whole properties available to for short-term holiday lets that could be available in the housing stock for local families, as well as the dramatic effect this is having on house prices and rental prices. For example, a recent check by Stayzia showed 145 homes available for local residents to rent across all of Cornwall, but 8,294 homes available as holiday lets on Airbnb. Is therefore no wonder that rental prices and house prices are currently hyper-inflated to stratospheric levels and the same can be witnessed in tourism destinations around the world.
The squeeze on housing affordability has a number of knock-on effects. The extremely favourable conditions for landlords enables them to cut corners or reduce the standards and quality of accommodation on offer. Leading to widespread reports of unsafe, insecure or poorly managed rental accommodation. Furthermore, the inaccessibility of the housing market, as well as the significant rents charged for homes, is seen as a "cycle-of-poverty" factor in ever-growing levels of economic stagflation in many communities, even leading to homelessness or reliance on food banks and other charitable initiatives.
In each of these impacted places around the world, there is causing ever-growing resentment against Airbnb and against the lack of government policy to address the issue, such as by social housing and taxation on homes run as businesses. Meanwhile, Airbnb spends huge sums of money lobbying governments to try and persuade them that their business model benefits local economies, but often by spreading false or misleading information. For example, they frequently misrepresent the number of ‘whole properties’ listed on the platform, given that these have the most significant impact on housing, whereas the actual figure is somewhere closer to 70% of all Airbnb listings being homes that should be available to local families. The negative economic and social impacts of Airbnb are becoming ever-clearer to everyone. The lack of affordable, safe and quality housing has huge knock-on effects for the local communities, not just financially. For example, it results in their local areas resembling ghost towns in off-peak seasons, where most of the homes are simply empty. This means that local businesses, shops, banks, schools and other community spaces serving local residents can longer be sustained and are instead replaced with tourism-focused or highly seasonal businesses. It is therefore impacting the very essence and sense of belonging among communities, with ramifications for their physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
Stayzia.org has therefore committed that, in all areas where housing affordability and security are reported concerns, it may utilise community funds to help deliver solutions to this. Such measures might include:
Working closely with property developers and investing, lending or taking part in new property development plans, focusing particularly on strategic developments and social housing. This backing will make it easier for many property developers, builders and housing associations to achieve their housing development plans, while also providing a potential ROI for the community’s trust fund.
Buying up housing that comes onto the market that is at risk of becoming a short-term rental business and ensuring that it is rented to local residents over the long term and at significantly more affordable rents. We are also keen to explore the development of a new ‘shared ownership’ scheme, where those renting our accommodation can slowly pay off the ownership of the house and, should they wish, eventually own the house outright or sell their existing ‘share’ in it to another purchaser.
Giving grants or some kind of security to people who are struggling to get on to the housing ladder, to help them with the deposit or with securing a mortgage. This would be done in strategic partnership with mortgage lenders and with expert advice behind it, but it certainly seems like another possible way to help local residents with their housing needs.
Supporting charities, social enterprises or local businesses whose activities have a positive impact on local housing, including homelessness charities and organisations providing advice and advocacy to tenants or those seeking to get on the property ladder.
NB: One objection that people may raise about the Stayzia model with regard to housing is that we are saying we are part of the solution, but that in fact we are seeking to use up available housing in just the same manner as Airbnb and other platforms. In response to this, we outline that:
The objective is to supplant Airbnb, Booking.com, TripAdvisor and other platforms in the marketplace and then, from there, to have a better control on the market. We would then be well placed as a charity to buy up housing for local residents.
We are able to buy up housing at risk of being let out on holiday rental platforms, thus meaning that over time there is a change equivalent to greater social housing available. We also intend to increase housing developments that will attract ‘downsizers’, after which we can buy the larger or more desirable housing that becomes available to rent to local families.
We cannot promise to solve the whole problem, but only to be a part of the solution. Having listings on Stayzia in a local area, instead of Airbnb, will do far more to protect the interests of the community and ensure that it gets significant opportunities for housing development, access to housing, access to higher wages, and community regeneration. A regulatory solution is not forthcoming and Stayzia.org, as a charity, is best placed to address a fair balance between all competing interests.
iii. Stable and Secure Employment
Another phenomenon of the growing use of ‘sharing economies’ for space is the conversion of the whole local area and its character into a large tourist attraction. The upshot is that the economy itself has shifted towards businesses that will cater for visitors (e.g. gift shops, activity centres, cafes, bars & restaurants and holiday lets) and away from traditional sectors operating in that area. In many cases, however, economic activity in the hospitality and tourism sector can increase the volume of low pay and highly seasonal job opportunities, with a lack of long-term prospects. As a result, local residents are often unable to find stable, well-paid and secure work in their local area, with ‘outsiders’ either exploiting the area through tourism and hospitality businesses or by buying up available housing stock. What is more, local residents may have skills in traditional economic sectors for that area and a lack of training and support to earn income by other means or investment to utilise their skillsets more effectively.
It is also important to consider where the money that local communities generate actually ends up. It is very common for tourism providers to be externally funded, meaning that that local residents only receive low pay and insecure work, while most of the profits generated flow out of the community to investors, business owners and senior managers. Known in the sector as “leakage”, the expansion of communities becoming tourism businesses around the world has accelerated this inequality between local residents and outside investors. As on example, a study by the WTO suggested that for every $100 dollars spent while visiting developing countries, only $5 of that actually goes into the local community. The remainder is leaked outwards to large ‘outside’ companies such as those running hotel chains, leisure facilities, restaurants, bars, shops and transport. The result again is that local residents are unable to earn a sufficient income in their local area or are forced into work unsuited or undesirable to them.
Stayzia.org has therefore committed that, in all areas where the lack of stable and secure employment because of tourism is a reported concern, it may utilise community funds to help deliver solutions to this. Such measures might include:
Providing grants, loans or investment to local businesses that will provide valued employment opportunities to local residents, including jobs that offer opportunities for growth and year-round stability.
Providing grants, loans or investments into enterprises that focus on providing training or on broadly supporting and promoting local businesses.
Stayzia itself will aim to provide work opportunities in the regions where it operates, wherever possible. This may include internships and training offered directly by Stayzia.org.
iv. Tourism Capacity and Infrastructure
Another widely reported impact of unsustainable tourism is infrastructural and access pressures. It is very common to learn of things such as roads or streets that become overcrowded, a lack of effective waste disposal to deal with population surges, a lack of parking, a lack of suitable travel options for residents, or local landmarks that become difficult to access or enjoy. This overcrowding not only causes congestion and difficulties getting around, but it makes areas generally inhospitable or unwelcome for locals. So many famous examples can be found.
Stayzia.org has therefore committed that, in all areas where overcrowding and infrastructural stresses from tourism are a reported concern, it may utilise community funds to help deliver solutions to this. Such measures might include:
Investing in or providing grants and loans to developers or local authorities who can improve infrastructure, such as roads, pathways, bicycle paths and other means of transportation.
Providing support and guidance to communities, including suitable funding, to help them divert footfall or to stagger or restrict access to certain areas or landmarks.
Expanding the attractiveness of destinations outside of ‘honeypot’ sites, such as by building leisure facilities, hotels or activity-driven businesses in alternative, under-exploited areas away from the more common destinations.
v. Cultural Heritage and Community Identity
Also widely reported in all areas impacted by tourism is the dramatic loss of community culture and heritage in tourism destinations. Terms such as “gentrification”, “Disneyfication” and “tourismphobia” are becoming synonymous with the global tourism industry. It was already noted how economic activity which formed the cultural fabric of communities and was a core part of their identity, but many are complaining that this is being replaced with tourism-facing businesses, such as gift shops, bars & nightclubs. Signs from locals spelling out “tourists unwelcome” or “tourists go home” are being recorded with alarming frequency and the problem is has grown into a key political agenda in hundreds of communities worldwide.
Not only is the changing socioeconomic landscape and ingrained inequality the problem hitting communities, but it is about the very landscape itself. Reports of “ghost towns” in off-peak seasons, where there are no residents living in attractive central properties are commonplace. What is more, cultural landmarks, heritage sites or traditions which formed a part of a community’s very identity, have been replaced with ‘kiss-me-quick’ tourism experiences. In effect, it has harmed the sense of belonging, sense of community and, as a result, even the mental health of residents in impacted communities.
It is now widely accepted that there are major “winners and losers” from tourism. Many local residents and businesses are now completely reliant on the money that flows in from tourism, while many other local residents only experience the negative impacts and a poorer quality of life. As such, Stayzia.org seeks to address a balanced middle-ground and equalise this current winner-loser system, by ensuring tourism businesses can continue, but in a way that is sustainable and which builds broader community socio-economic and cultural resilience and wellbeing.
Stayzia.org has therefore committed that, in all areas where loss of culture, heritage and identity are a reported concern, it may utilise community funds to help deliver solutions to this. Such measures might include grants, investments or loans to support the following:
Maintenance, repair or purchase of community heritage assets, with a view to their long-term preservation for the local community and public enjoyment. Such heritage assets may include landmarks, monuments, natural landscapes, community centres, schools, marketplaces and places of worship or other buildings.
The development, expansion or strengthening of economic activities and businesses that will preserve or protect cultural traditions and values or will serve the needs of local communities, instead of visitors.
Supporting or growing services or activities that will support the needs of local residents, such as socialisation, education, training or general support.
The development or expansion of areas housing displaced local residents, in order to rebuild or redevelop their community strength and reduce demand for property in hotspots.
vi. Environmental Protection
The impact of tourism on the environment is one of the most widely reported and studied phenomena, with the need for “green tourism” and “ecotourism” being recognised everywhere. Littering, waste and greenhouse gas emissions are the most obvious examples, but it is important to remember other commonly reported nuisances, like impacts on local wildlife, noise pollution, light pollution, or lewd or undesirable behaviour in public spaces.
Stayzia.org has therefore committed that, in all areas where loss of culture, heritage and identity are a reported concern, it may utilise community funds to help deliver solutions to this. Such measures might include:
Adjusting our pricing or business model, as well as providing support and guidance, in order to improve the sustainability of host destinations and of tourists.
Providing grants, investments or loans to support the development of facilities to manage, control or reduce waste, such as refuse collections, recycling units, reducing water usage and improved energy and resource efficiency.
Supporting local initiatives or businesses that seek to offset environmental impacts, such as replacing the use of packaging or single-use plastics, or opting for fully recyclable or biodegradable alternatives.
Improving sound insulation or building measures to control or divert noise or light pollution.
Improving the availability of facilities to house or manage unwanted behaviours, such as public restrooms or moving nightclubs away from local residents.
Supporting the expansion of alternative travel activities, facilities and businesses, to cater to different tourism types and divert demand.
Rewilding, regenerating, reintroducing or conserving aspects of the local natural environment and ecosystem.