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Society

Favoring Hotels, Greece Wants to Rein in Short-Term Rentals

ATHENS – As it did with protecting taxis by putting constraints on Uber, Greece is now trying to give hotels an advantage over short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb that are proving competitive but are changing the character of neighborhoods.

Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said tourist accommodation rental platforms would be asked to adjust their advertising policies in a bid to regulate the short-term rentals.

Many Greek property owners have switched from renting out apartments by the month with long-term leases in favor of turning them into short-term stays for tourists, finding they can make more money.

But that has driven many Greeks out of the market in their own cities and seen rents boosted out of reach for many with even areas such as the anarchist stronghold of Exarchia in Athens being targeted by investors too.

Speaking during the National Strategy for Tourism 2030 event organized by the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Kikilias said the ministry would be reaching out to Booking.com and Expedia, GTP Headlines said.

“In short, there will be no hotels listed without stars. Where hotels are advertised, for example, short-term rentals cannot be advertised. This will be clarified,” Kikilias said, without indicating how he could order that.

Groups representing tourism and relevant sectors in Europe were happy that the European Commission said it would regulate short-term rentals with hotels complaining about the competition and wanting an edge.

SETE President Yiannis Retsos said while Airbnb-styles rentals are a recognized part of the country’s tourist product, they are creating unfair market conditions, particularly for tax-paying hotels, the report said.

“We consider the involvement of municipalities very important. It is necessary to award jurisdiction to respective mayors so that they will be able to set limits on such activity,” he said, without indicating how that could happen.

SETE earlier had proposed a Value Added Tax (VAT), a property cap, and rental time limits as part of a set of rules to regulate Airbnb-style activities without saying why that wouldn’t be unfair to the property owners.

Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis said municipal authorities should be responsible for setting limits on short-term rental activity depending on each area’s needs and carrying capacity.

According to AirDNA data, demand for Airbnbs in Greece is continuing its upward trend, marking a 13.5 percent rise in overnight stays in September, 2022 compared to the same month in 2019.

Greece was also among the only eight countries in Europe to see the number of Airbnb-style listings increase, ranking eighth and with a huge 61.8 percent increase during the summer of 2022 compared to a year earlier.

The COVID-19 pandemic had seen many property owners desperately try to go back to longer-term rentals as international air traffic ground almost to a halt, and there was next to no demand for short-term rentals for long periods – but the waning of the pandemic has caused them to shift gears.

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