Couchsurfing has become a very popular way to travel and in many blogs and on different webpages you can read about what a sustainable way of travelling it is. I agree that it is sustainable in the sense that you interact with locals and you don’t stay in big hotels. But the fact that there is no money being generated in accommodation might not be the best for a sustainable development and tourism in a place and for it locals. Sustainable tourism and travelling contains not only culture and environment but also economy, and for a village, a town, a city or for a region to have a sustainable development money needs to be generated and it has to stay in the region with the locals. Back to the couchsurfing. No money is generated in accommodation when couchsurfing. Wouldn’t it be more economically sustainable to stay in a small local guest house rather than to couchsurf?
I very often hear how great it is to couchsurf because it is FOR FREE. If that is the main reason you couchsurf, then I don’t think it is a very good thing. On the website you can read that the mission with couchsurfing is focusing on the role of intercultural exchange and the impact of world-wide mutual aid and tolerance. As I have never couchsurfed myself it is difficult to make a fair picture of how it works and I have absolutely no idea if the majority of the couchsurfers out there actually do it out of their political opinions to avoid the big hotels and support authentic interaction with other cultures. I ask myself and I ask you who have couchsurfed. Are most couchsurfers and hosts really interested in spending time with their host and learn about the place and culture through this person? And also the other way around. Are the hosts interested in guiding their surfers and teaching them about local customs and so on?
To me, Couchsurfing should be more than hosting someone, or being hosted. If I would couchsurf I would be very disappointed if it turned out just to be a place to crash and a way for the host to have a free place to crash when he happens to travel to my home.
I am absolutely open to the idea of couchsurfing and I am a member on the webpage since probably two years back. I just haven’t got around to actually doing it.