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Greeks, Not Tourists, Turn to Airbnb Vacation Rentals

Αssociated Press

A general view of the city of Athens with the ancient Acropolis hill on the background, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – After the bottom fell out of the short-term rental market in Greece during a long lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and tourists not coming en masse yet, Greeks are filling some of the void.

Most are turning to the popular platform Airbnb although thousands of property owners have been going back to long-term rentals after emptying their apartments and homes of permanent residents in favor of tourists.

That changed the character of some neighborhoods, especially around the Acropolis, and drove out long-term residents but the pandemic has seen a shift back toward letting the out by the year or longer again.

There was apparently a big jump in new bookings for properties in Greece, but they are almost exclusively from Greeks, not foreigners, according to data presented at the Delphi Economic Forum by Giacomo Trovato, Airbnb’s country manager for Italy and Southeast Europe.

There had been a dramatic drop in key areas such as the second-largest city of Thessaloniki as well as Halkidiki and areas accessible by car showing precedence in interest from renters for holiday stays.

Before the pandemic, 80 percent of guests at short-term rentals were foreigners. “Since early May the picture has started improving, not only in terms of new bookings that are doubling every two weeks, but also in the total number of properties, which now add up to 123,000, some 4,000 more than in 2019,” said Trovato.