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Airbnb Fires Back at EU Cities With Open Letter

News Epic Stays
by Eben Diskin Jul 2, 2019

Last week, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Krakow, Munich, Paris, Valencia, and Vienna wrote a joint letter to the EU, arguing that Airbnb was negatively changing neighborhoods by leading to housing shortages and rising rent, and asking for help fighting the home-sharing giant. Now, Airbnb is firing back with a letter of its own. In an open letter to European governments and regulators, Airbnb touts its positive economic impact on the communities it serves and emphasizes its collaborative relationships with cities.

“European cities believe homes should be used first and foremost for living in,” the cities argued in their initial letter. “Many suffer from a serious housing shortage. Where homes can be rented out more lucratively to tourists, they vanish from the traditional housing market.”

Airbnb fired back with some pretty staggering numbers. “New data released today,” its letter reads, “shows that travel on Airbnb had an estimated direct economic impact of more than €36 billion in EU Member States in 2018 alone. Made up of host earnings and reported guest spending, that’s almost €100 million per day.”

It does, however, concede that its services should be regulated. “Every day,” the letter reads, “we are investing in working with governments around the world to proactively seek new regulations to help diversify tourism and protect housing, and to make it easier for more hosts to pay more tax.”

Airbnb’s letter also (unsurprisingly) takes direct issue with the letter penned by the EU cities, pointing out sections it believes to be erroneous:

“First, the letter overlooked many of the tourism challenges facing cities today. For example in Amsterdam, guests on Airbnb account for just 8% of overnight visitors to the city, and more than two thirds of Airbnb guests stay outside the city centre, helping to create a sustainable tourism model that benefits locals in more communities.”

“Secondly, we feel the letter misrepresents the collaborative relationship we want to have — and already do — with many cities across Europe. In Amsterdam again, we have worked with the city since 2014 to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay their fair share of tax. We are one of the only platforms to limit how often hosts can share their space.”

It concludes by expressing Airbnb’s wish to “continue working together on rules and regulations that work for everyone and that will help more people benefit from modern, healthy and sustainable tourism in the EU.”

The full letter is available online.

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