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If nothing else, Airbnb will be hoping the funding gets it some much-needed good public relations at a time when it is coming under increasing pressure in several key European cities.

Airbnb is stepping up its philanthropic efforts in Europe as it continues to come under pressure from city authorities across the continent.

The home-sharing platform has said it will invest $5.6 million (€5 million) to support a new Community Tourism Program. Airbnb would give the cash to projects, which it says “use innovation to help preserve and boost the best of local customs, traditions and landmarks that make communities unique.”

The company will take submissions from various organizations, including charities, non-profit agencies and community groups with the aim of finalizing those that would receive funding by February 2018.

“At some level it really is a response to lessons that we have learned and we really engaged with different cities, with different communities and with different countries and [that] really has informed how we’re thinking about healthy tourism,” said Chris Lehane, Airbnb global head of Public Policy and Public Affairs.

While the program is described as being separate from the Airbnb platform, those keen to apply are advised to “look at how they can take advantage of the Airbnb marketplace to enhance their impact.”

Airbnb has already run a series of ad hoc projects across Europe over the past year and the new scheme comes at a time when Airbnb is facing increasing criticism in some key European cities.

Last year, Berlin effectively banned short-term rentals to try to deal with the housing shortage in the city.

In Barcelona, authorities are cracking down on illegal rentals and Airbnb has been a target of community groups worried about the exponential growth of tourism.

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Tags: airbnb, europe

Photo credit: Airbnb pledges to contribute monies to community and social groups in Europe. Pictured in Evora, Portugal is Praça do Giraldo, a World Heritage site and then just wonder about the narrow streets and monuments of this World Heritage Site! Visit Portugal

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