Holiday rentals via online booking platforms such as Airbnb and Booking continue to grow in Europe, but Amsterdam and the Netherlands record an opposite trend, according to the latest data published by the EU statistical office Eurostat.
Bookings via these platforms had already recovered from the pandemic in 2022, with guest nights reaching or exceeding 2019’s levels every month and breaching the 100 million thresholds for the first time in August 2022. In the first six months of 2023, the trend has continued.
In the first quarter of this year, the number of guest nights spent in short-term rental accommodation booked via Airbnb, Booking, Expedia or TripAdvisor was 237 million, a 18.8% increase over the same period in 2022 and +22.6% compared to 2019, the EU agency said.
Seaside destinations are popular throughout the year, while last winter Alpine regions topped the list of preferences. France was the most popular country in the first half of 2023, with over 57 million nights booked, followed by Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal.
In the Netherlands, however, over 2.7 million nights were booked on online platforms between April and June this year, an increase of 15.8% over the same period in 2022 but a decline of 2.7% on 2019.
Data for cities, which are collected on an annual basis, reveal different realities.
For Amsterdam, the number of nights spent in Airbnb-style accommodation in 2022 was 924,663, a steep decline from the over 2.2 million in 2019. Since 2021, the city decided that hosts have to register their property with the council and can only rent it out for a maximum of 30 days in a year. Amsterdam has now more Airbnb-registed apartments more than it did during the pandemic but the total, according to statistics site AirDNA is less than half of the 18,000 homes listed on the site before new rules were brought in. Neither Amsterdam city council or Airbnb responded to Dutch News’ request for their own figures.
A similar trend is seen in Barcelona, which also introduced restrictions on short-term rentals, and went from some 11 million guest nights booked in 2019 to 8.5 million in 2022. On the other hand, Paris last year was back to pre-pandemic levels, with 13.5 million nights booked via online platforms, about the same as in 2019. Athens was also back at about 4.5 million, and Venice was trailing at 3.2 million compared to 3.5 million in 2019.
Other cities in the Netherlands recorded on a downward trend. Rotterdam went from some 321,628 guest nights in 2019 to about 193,753 in 2022; Haarlem from 261,520 to 155,827 and Utrecht from 218,680 to 98,819.
Some smaller centres, however, have risen in popularity. Ede, for instance, almost doubled its night stays between 2018 (57,377) and 2022 (101,303), with around 83-93,000 during the pandemic. Alkmaar and Tilburg also grew.
Airbnb argues that flexible searches on the platform, such as ‘Airbnb Categories’ and ‘I’m Flexible’, help divert bookings from Europe’s tourist hotspots. A report by the company shows that in Amsterdam, flexible bookers tend to stay more frequently outside the city centre.
“The pandemic caused unprecedented disruption to global tourism. As international visitor numbers plummeted by more than 70%, we saw a profound shift in travel habits away from international trips and city breaks towards domestic travel and extended rural stays, as people sought to connect with each other safely and within Covid regulations. Many such travel trends have endured,” the company said.
Airbnb, Booking, Expedia and TripAdvisor have an agreement to share quarterly regional data with the European Commission. The Europeanparliament and Council are currently discusing legislation to ensure local authorities regularly receive such data in order to deal with excess tourism.