• Kyodo

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Airbnb Inc., a popular U.S. online marketplace and home-stay network, and Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, have agreed to join hands on promoting tourism in the city, the company’s first deal with a Japanese municipality.

The city in Japan’s tsunami-ravaged northeast is scheduled to host matches for the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and aims to host more tourists with the help of the globally famous network.

The move last week came as the government makes efforts to stimulate tourism by drafting rules for the burgeoning minpaku industry, which involves paid accommodation using private houses or apartments.

Airbnb and Kamaishi are expected to work together to bolster public relations activities for tourists and increase the number of households and individuals willing to host foreign guests.

The U.S. firm, whose services are available in 191 countries, has expressed a desire to cooperate with more government entities in Japan.

Kamaishi Mayor Takenori Noda said at a press conference with Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia in Tokyo that the city would face difficulty providing accommodations for the rugby event without Airbnb’s backing.

Gebbia said the firm will be able to support Kamaishi, noting it has helped cities that hosted Olympic events handle more visitors than initially planned.

Airbnb profits by charging percentage service fees from both guests and hosts for every accommodation booked through its site.

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