Are Short-term Holiday Rentals Destroying Communities?

Cities around the world are again competing for tourist business as people resume travel after the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic. But local people in some go-to destinations say the popularity of short-term homestay rentals is a threat to their future. Millions of people worldwide regularly choose to book short stays in rooms or entire properties through online platforms such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and, enticed by the amenities offered by private hosts. But while the renewed interest in travel in recent months has pushed Airbnb’s profits to new highs, people living in tourism hotspots say landlords and developers have sought to push them out to develop properties for lucrative short-term holiday rentals. Tenants pressured to leave their homes often find it impossible to find other places in the immediate vicinity. Many have little option but to move further away, hampering access to workplaces, schools, and grocery markets at a time when food and fuel prices are stubbornly high. Local people trying to buy their first home say they have been priced out as speculators snap up properties for short-term let – often sight unseen. While some city authorities have sought to walk a line between welcoming tourism and supporting local tenants and first-time buyers, some landlords say that local regulations are making it more difficult for them to make extra money through Airbnb and other platforms. They contrast their listing of a single property with the behaviour of hosting companies that offer a range of properties to tourists and business travellers. Home rental platforms such as Airbnb say they are providing an in-demand service that benefits both tourists and homeowners. In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at the impact that short-term holiday lets are having on local people in cities and other tourist destinations, and ask what they mean for community life.