Greek Hotel Owners Say Airbnb, Home-Sharing, Swallowing Properties

People walk in front of the Greek Parliament, in central Athens, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – Fast-spreading conversion of Greek properties into short-term rental stays through popular sites such as Airbnb is seeking a spike in rents even in low-income areas and cutting down the available housing stock at an alarming rage, Greek hoteliers said.

Renters are being pushed out by landlords who can make many more times the monthly income by letting places to tourists as the country is in a long run of record-busting seasons luring visitors from other countries, they complained.

More than 70,000 properties in Greece are available for rent to tourists through home-sharing platforms, research from accounting firm Grant Thornton for the Greek Chamber of Hotels reported.

The home-sharing sector is growing at an annual rate of about 25 percent, generating revenues of about 1.9 billion euros, or 10 percent of total tourist spending in the country, the research showed.

“The situation is out of control,” Alexandros Vassilikos, head of the Greek Chamber of Hotels, said, referring to the research findings for top summer destinations such as the islands of Crete and Corfu.

“We have higher rents that are hitting the poor more, distorting the character of traditional neighborhoods … and creating more garbage,” he said, Kathimerini reported.

The hoteliers want the government to set limits on the total number of nights a property can be rented out to tourists, as well as higher taxation and stricter rules to ensure the character of a region is respected as well.

Vassilikos said that hotels with high operating costs are facing unfair competition from the home-sharing sector. “The hotels sector is over-regulated, while the ‘sharing economy’ is totally unregulated in Greece,” he said.

In the town of Chania on Crete, 95 percent of homes and apartments available for rent are registered on home-sharing platforms for tourists, mainly to Airbnb, the Grant Thornton research showed, while it’s 83 percent in Koukaki, near the Acropolis.

Rents in Athens rose more than 9 percent year-on-year in 2018, said Panagiotis Prontzas, who headed the research for Grant Thornton. A hotel chamber official who wasn’t named told the paper that owners – including him -were being evicted by landlords who preferred a stream of more lucrative short-term renters.

 

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