Greece’s Tourists Prefer Home Swaps, Airbnb to Hotels

FILE - Tourists take photographs with Acropolis Hill in the background during a 24-hour strike by ancient guards in Athens, Friday, March 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

In what could be an ominous trend for Greek hotels, despite growing interest by investors in building luxury accommodations and resorts, tourists want to use short-term rentals of apartments and homes such as Airbnb and Homeaway for their stays.

The number of beds in apartments available for short-term leasing is now higher that that at the capital’s hotels, statistics show, said Kathimerini, driving up rent prices even in low-income areas and the anarchist hotbed of Exarchia, a filthy, graffiti-covered area of concrete buildings but close to downtown and attractions.

A survey on Attica hotel traffic in the January-August period conducted by GBR Consulting for the Association of Athens-Attica and Argosaronic Hoteliers in the first eight months saw an increase of 2.2 percent in hotel occupancy rates and an 8.5 percent rise in the average room price, the paper said, with interest rising fast in short-term rentals that offer whole apartments and homes instead of hotel rooms.

The data were presented Sept. 29 at the association’s annual general meeting by the President of the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels, Alexandros Vassilikos, whose industry has been hit by additional overnight stay taxes.

With several consecutive record years of tourism, the pace of visitors preferring not to stay in hotels is also picking up. Despite the big numbers of visitors, hotels showed only a marginal increase.

“It is clear that either homesharing or illegal hotels absorb a major number of visitors,” said Vassilikos, with hoteliers pressing the Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition to stop the competition as it did for the taxi industry, putting conditions on Uber and other ride-sharing services making it impossible for them to operate. “Data on those rooms have not been formally recorded,” he added, saying the short-term stay market had an unfair advantage.