Coronavirus Fears Crash Airbnb, Short-Term Rentals in Greece

March 16, 2020

ATHENS – Just as Greece’s tourism season was hoping for another record year and big summer, the onslaught of the COVID-19 Coronavirus has seen bookings for short-term rentals through sites such as Airbnb plunge some 70 percent.

The online bookings are slowing almost to a halt with the New Democracy government fearing the disease has already wiped out hopes of accelerating a recovery from a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis.

Sector professionals told Kathimerini that, “It’s like we are still in January, although we are heading toward the Easter holidays,” a big boom period anticipating what was expected to be a banner year before the bottom fell out.

Even a partial lockdown of the country has seen deep economic repercussions and there are worries that if the disease spreads it could bring down a total clamp that will wipe out the summer tourism hopes and cut deep into the country’s biggest revenue engine.

Nasos Gavalas, Chief Executive at the short-term rental management company Mint (formerly EazyBnB,) told the paper: “We have recorded a reduction in arrivals and certainly many cancellations in bookings, particularly for the period until end-April. We estimate that the slump currently comes to 70 percent compared to the same period last year.”

For now, the biggest dropoff has been in rental units in cities while those at country sites are faring better as the disease has spread less in less congested areas.

Scores of thousands of long-term rental units in Athens had been rapidly converted to short-term rentals, driving out residents in favor of transients, which has now backfired for property owners losing the tourist sector.


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