People In Hawaii Are Fed Up With Vacation Rentals

By Michelle Broder Van Dyke

In an Airbnb commercial posted on social media in December, a family frolics among turtles in the ocean off the beachfront town of Waialua, as a voiceover explains that their Airbnb host in Hawaii told them about “the rock,” a place where the sea creatures are often found.

As they swim, one of the family members steps on coral and touches the shell of a Hawaiian green sea turtle.

The ad drew the ire of some locals and people on Facebook, who flooded Airbnb’s post with negative feedback, explaining that it’s illegal to touch green sea turtles and that stepping on coral can kill an entire colony.

Airbnb removed the post and issued an apology four days later, saying that it “deeply regret[s] the actions captured.” (Some versions of the commercial still remain online, however, with one Airbnb tweet sharing it with the line: “Find your slice of heaven.”)

Matt Middlebrook, the head of public policy at Airbnb, told BuzzFeed News that the ad was made by company marketing team.

The fallout from the spot highlights the tensions between Airbnb, which hopes to capitalize on the more than 9 million tourists who visit Hawaii each year, and locals who are facing a statewide housing shortage and increasingly high cost of living. The state’s residents are also concerned that outsiders are buying up property and renting it to unruly vacationers who disrupt peaceful neighborhoods.

Read the full Buzzfeed News article here.

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