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Fighting the Airbnb effect

© Good Travel Guide, January 2022

Airbnb is a popular platform that allows people to rent out their spaces and tourists to find affordable and diverse accommodations. As the popularity of Airbnb grows so does the infamous Airbnb effect. As a response, new organizations are being created that want to offer a similar service with a positive impact on local communities.

The idea behind Airbnb was that homeowners could rent out an extra room or second home that they did not use and make some extra money. For tourists, it was supposed to be a way to find cheaper accommodations, interact with locals and stay in less touristy neighbourhoods. It was also supposed to help bring tourists to less frequented areas and reduce overcrowding in tourist hotspots.

However, the incredible success of Airbnb caused an unexpected phenomenon, called the Airbnb effect. Homeowners and landlords realized that renting out their properties for short term lets could be more profitable than long term lets or even selling them. Now there are landlords and property management companies focusing solely on renting out multiple properties to tourists. In many cities, this has contributed to reducing the number of houses available and driving up the prices for renting and buying. Locals get pushed out from the centre and neighbourhoods where they used to live because they can not afford them anymore.

The residents who do stay often complain about losing their communities, people coming and going all the time and businesses catering to residents being replaced by others intended for tourists. In some cases, locals suffer from tourists’ anti-social behaviours. In Amsterdam, the situation was so severe that the city introduced an on the spot fine system for actions like public drunkenness and urinating in the canals.

Many cities like Berlin, Barcelona, and Portland, are creating regulations to reduce the increase of short term lets. These measures include: reducing the number of nights a property can be let out per year and requiring a license for short term rentals.

There are also private initiatives popping up to support local communities. Recently a platform for short term rentals in the Scottish Islands has been launched. The founder, Rhoda Meek, is a local, who recognizes that improving the housing situation will take time in the meanwhile, short term rentals will keep existing. Her idea is to make sure they can benefit the local community so she created a holiday accommodation booking site called Isle Develop CIC. For every booking, they charge a commission, part of it is used to run the business that has already created two jobs in the islands. The surplus goes to supporting small businesses and community and housing projects in the Scottish Islands.

A similar initiative that has been around for five years is Fairbnb. They direct 50% of the booking commission to selected social projects present in the destination the tourist is going to visit. In every city where it is present Fairbnb has a local node responsible for defining sustainable policies for their area and selecting the social projects.

If you want to know more about sustainable sleeping, check out our blog post about it. In the blog post, you will find a guide with useful tips for finding sustainable accommodations, including: 

  1. Look for sustainability credentials
  2. When using major booking platforms, use filters to find sustainable options
  3. Use regional websites
  4. Use booking platforms dedicated to sustainable accommodations 
  5. Do your own research
  6. Beware of greenwashing 

Go to our blog post to read the full guide!



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