Airbnb protests Amsterdam's home-sharing ban proposal

Airbnb
Photo credit: Airbnb

Amsterdam’s city government has proposed a ban on accommodation-sharing platforms in three areas of the city, in part because of the impact on the city’s housing market and what it describes as “social cohesion.”

In defending its place in the city, Airbnb—arguably the largest home-sharing platform in the industry—quoted a study commissioned by Ecorys, noting Amsterdam currently welcomes 19 million visitors per year, of which 10 million spent at least one night in Amsterdam. The report claimed hotels, including guesthouses and hostels, and cruise ships together accounted for more than 90 percent of all overnight guests in Amsterdam, while Airbnb was responsible for only 8 percent of all overnight guests, but accounted for more than 21 percent of the overnight tourist spending as guests stayed longer—twice as long, it said, compared to hotels—and spent more money.

“More tourists will stay in Amsterdam despite the new coalition plans to combat tourism,” the report said. “The main driver of growth are new hotels, which will increase tourism with close to two million extra overnight guests. The proposed measure for home sharing is likely to have close to no impact on overnight tourism, but is likely to negatively affect Amsterdammers and local businesses outside the city center.”

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The Effects

“I wonder whether the ban will actually happen because the municipality has already confirmed that it is not that easy to just change the current legislation,” said Marieke Dessauvagie, a hotel consultant at Colliers International. “I think it will be quite a long process and it may take a few years before we get there. Who knows what will happen in that period of time, the market for home sharing is changing so quickly that I am not sure how the latest developments will affect the motion by that time.
 
“If Airbnb is banned in those neighborhoods, I do not think it will bring more travelers to hotels but rather to other Airbnbs in different areas. Amsterdam is a small city and it is quite easy to just go to another listing that is only a few minutes away. So I doubt that it will bring the desired effect for the entire city, as it will increase tourism pressure on other neighborhoods in Amsterdam," said Dessauvagie,
 
“Also, I think Airbnb and other home -sharing platforms could have avoided this if they had been more transparent in the past and had adhered to city regulations. Airbnb does not (effectively) stand up against hosts that abuse the platform and this is one of the results," she said.

“The municipality is coming to this ban based on pressure from Amsterdam residents, who would have a lot less to complain about if the hosts would stick to the rules (such as a maximum of 60 days—30 days as of January 1—and maximum of four guests per listing). Airbnb can easily regulate this but they don’t, so this is partially on themselves as well," said Dessauvagie.
 
Airbnb has protested that it has moved to enforce local sharing laws, not only in Amsterdam but also in London and Paris, where it has come under recent pressure. The group said it welcomed a scheme registering sharing properties and was working with the local authorities. 

Dessauvagie said that figures from Colliers International were close to those quoted by Airbnb, with the platform accounting for 12 percent of stays in 2017. “This only includes Airbnb but not other home-sharing sites,” she said. “Also, it could be much more in 2018 but we have to wait until the new year to know that for sure.”

Katherine Doggrell is an editor at Hotel Analyst, the U.K.-based news analysis service for hotel investors.

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