Airbnb announced that it will spend US$5 million to expand its “Airbnb Experiences” offerings to an additional 200 cities in the US, building on the success of the locally guided programmes launched in a dozen cities in November 2016 and expanded to 50 cities since.

Activities available to Airbnb guests though Experiences range from tours to hands-on educational programs and dine-arounds to more specialist interests, such as Swim Like a Mermaid (above). Local hosts earn fees for leading programs, with Airbnb getting a 20 per cent cut.

“By attracting travellers from around the world who seek to see cities through the eyes of a local, Airbnb Experiences bring real economic value to neighbourhoods and non-profits that previously would not have benefited from tourism,” according to a company statement. “Even more, it provides a unique opportunity for people to earn extra income by showcasing their knowledge and talent with an audience of millions.”

Guest Experiences bookings are up 2,000 per cent year-over-year, according to Airbnb, and the number of Experiences on offer has increased 500 per cent. “Globally, we currently offer more than 4,000 experiences across 50 cities, and in the US alone, we now offer over 1,000 experiences and counting.”