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Visit North Carolina and Airbnb relaunch partnership to boost rural tourism


Key Takeaways

  • Airbnb and Visit NC launch Spring in the Scenic Mountains as part of ‘Dream Big in Small Town NC,’ a partnership designed to boost economic recovery in rural North Carolina by attracting travelers and potential workforce to small towns across 16 counties in the state.
  • In 2022, nights booked in rural North Carolina comprised nearly one-third of total nights booked in the state.

Airbnb and Visit North Carolina announce the return of the Dream Big in Small Town NC partnership with an invitation to explore Spring in the Scenic Mountains. The Dream Big in Small Town NC campaign, funded by the General Assembly as part of North Carolina’s Rural Tourism Recovery Pilot Program, is led by Visit North Carolina and Airbnb, in coordination with the North Carolina Department of Commerce, to support the state’s post-pandemic recovery and the many unique local shops, restaurants and communities who rely on the local tourism industry. The collaborative campaign aims to promote travel to 16 rural counties in three distinct regions designated as the Scenic Mountains, the Northeast Lakes & Rivers, and the Inner Banks. 

“Spring’s approach makes this a perfect time to reconnect with travelers who are mapping 2023 getaways,” says Wit Tuttell, Visit NC’s Executive Director. “As an extension of Visit NC’s role as the state’s tourism marketing organization, we’re looking beyond travel inspiration per se to highlight charismatic places with appeal rooted in character and authenticity — places where travelers might settle in for longer stays by starting a business, joining the local workforce or working remotely.”

The spring campaign includes a sweepstakes to win a trip to the Scenic Mountain region’s five designated counties: GrahamHaywoodMadisonMitchell and Yancey. Travelers have until April 20 to register for one of five chances to win:

  • A $1,000 voucher from Airbnb
  • Three $100 gift cards for a selection of attractions
  • A $500 gift card from Visit NC to assist with travel expenses

Airbnb Hosts are eager to welcome new guests and share their favorite local spots and experiences in the Scenic Mountains.  

“There are so many wonderful things to do across the Scenic Mountains in North Carolina. From great restaurants and pubs with local craft beer, to beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails throughout the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains, and even a casino, there is truly something for everyone. Hosting has helped give me financial security as I prepare for retirement, and it has also helped me afford to travel. I can’t wait to welcome more guests this spring!” -  Charlie, Host of two private rooms in her Waynesville home. 

Following Spring in the Scenic Mountains, the Dream Big in Small Town NC campaign will spotlight Summer in the Northeast Lakes & Rivers (April 21 – June 20) and Fall in the Inner Banks (June 21-August 20), including Halifax County, home to Sylvan Heights Bird Park and the world’s largest collection of rare and endangered waterfowl; Kerr Lake, a 50,000-acre reservoir and idyllic paradise for those who love fishing, camping, boating and sailing, and nature trails; and Chowan County, which offers a wealth of historic sites and well-preserved architecture, a delightful surprise on top of its charismatic small town charm. 

Each region will be promoted to potential travelers with: 

  • media outreach, targeted social media ads, an influencer program, and email campaign to Airbnb guests in target markets across the country
  • an illustrated and interactive map hosted on a ‘Dream Page’ section of the Airbnb website featuring a curated list of nearby stays, experiences, and local businesses to help travelers discover North Carolina’s charming towns, rich history and hidden gems, and inspiring Airbnb Host stories
  • a sweepstakes to win a trip to visit the region, including an Airbnb gift card

The partnership is part of Airbnb’s work with destination marketing organizations and local governments to support local economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Airbnb has launched more than 140 partnerships across nearly three dozen countries, including nearly 40 in the US and Canada, to bolster the benefits of travel for residents and small businesses.

Since our founding, the Airbnb platform has helped communities use existing space to scale accommodations and absorb influxes of visitors, all while creating important economic opportunities for Hosts and local small businesses. Rural tourism helps to expand those benefits to communities that don’t typically see the same influx of visitors as urban areas. In 2022, nights booked in rural North Carolina comprised nearly one-third of total nights booked in the state. 

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Visit North Carolina with the launch of the Spring in the Scenic Mountains campaign and hope to inspire more travelers to discover off-the-beaten-path, rural areas that have so much to offer to those looking for a new vacation destination or a new home,” said Viviana Jordan, Southeast Public Policy Lead for Airbnb. “We are continuing to see growing interest in rural tourism with nights booked in rural North Carolina comprising nearly one-third of total nights booked in the state in 2022. From lush hiking trails to a vibrant art scene, the Scenic Mountains region has something for everyone, and this campaign will help us showcase its natural beauty and spread the benefits of tourism to the amazing places there are to explore in these counties.” 

As part of additional investments over last year, Airbnb supported local NC residents through the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy, a flexible and interactive education program focused on introducing communities to hosting. The program included two free, four-hour online workshops on exploring tourism entrepreneurship with top tips on hosting a space through Airbnb to earn extra income, with the option to connect with an experienced Superhost Ambassador. The Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy also worked with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to design and run an Academy for EBCI community members in rural North Carolina. We look forward to continuing this work in the year ahead. 

Now is the time to book your spring travel and experience the incredible local attractions, unique stays, and charming experiences the Tar Heel state has to offer.  

  • Discover ‘Dream Big’ in the scenic mountains

About Visit North Carolina: 

Visit North Carolina is part of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Established in 2014, the EDPNC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation that oversees the state’s efforts in business and job recruitment and retention, international trade, and tourism, film and sports development. The mission of Visit North Carolina is to unify and lead the state in developing North Carolina as a major destination for leisure travel, group tours, meetings and conventions, sports events and film production. For more information on North Carolina’s destinations and travel assets, go to

About Airbnb 

Airbnb was born in 2007 when two Hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home, and has since grown to over 4 million Hosts who have welcomed 1.4 billion guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe. Every day, Hosts offer unique stays and experiences that make it possible for guests to connect with communities in a more authentic way.

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