Not only low-cost. Home swapping as an alternative tourism strategy

Forno F., Garibaldi R., “Not only low-cost. Home swapping as an alternative tourism strategy” in Richards G., Russo A. P. (edited by), “Alternative and Creative Tourism”, ATLAS, Arnhem, 2014

Contemporary societies have observed the expansion of alternative, non-institutionalized travel trends, which oppose mainstream tourism by providing consumers with a broader range of alternatives. Between alternative and creative forms of tourism, very few studies have focused on home-exchange and this is in spite of its rapid growth, which has recently been observed even in countries where it has long remained a niche phenomenon. With this formula, tourists have the opportunity to organize custom tailored trips without seeking the services of travel mediators and with the only cost of the loan of their own home. The paper presents the results of a survey on Italian house-swappers and discusses their socioeconomic profile, motivations and lifestyles. As the data analysis points out, home exchange is an emerging form of alternative tourism which requires trust, respect, an open mind, inventiveness, preparation, enthusiasm and flexibility. If the economic aspect is certainly a factor to take into consideration in the explanation of the growth observed by this type of tourism, the possibility to cut the accommodation costs is certainly not the whole story here.

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