Airbnb Hosts and EU policymakers discuss future of European travel

As the summer travel season begins and the EU prepares for further easing of international travel on July 1, Hosts on Airbnb from across Europe met with European policymakers last week to discuss the future of tourism. 

The dedicated virtual session was led by Catherine Powell, Airbnb’s Global Head of Hosting, and was attended by four Hosts on Airbnb including two Hosts from Airbnb’s new Host Advisory Board, and EU policymakers from the European Parliament and the European Commission.

The productive discussions focused on how best to work together to rebalance tourism and ensure that the return of travel is safe, sustainable and benefits everyone. There was an emphasis on the need for clear and fair regulation for short term rentals and how best to support local, rural communities to deliver authentic experiences to travelers. 

“It’s really important for us politicians to hear first-hand from actors in the tourism sector. It was constructive to listen to the difficulties Airbnb Hosts encountered due to the travel and tourism restrictions imposed during the pandemic. Undoubtedly, Europe needs to continue to work on better coordination and harmonized rules across the digital single market. It is essential to better understand the needs and the gaps when it comes to EU regulation and policy, especially to help Small and Medium enterprises which are sometimes not taken adequately into consideration.”

Member of the European Parliament, Josianne Cutajar MEP.

“As travel starts to open up again, our Host community will be essential to Europe’s tourism recovery. We are already seeing pent up travel demand in some countries, with friends and family yearning to reunite and enjoy authentic experiences together for longer periods of time. We are delighted that our Host Community is ready to welcome guests and is prepared for the travel rebound of the century.”

Catherine Powell, commented on the importance of Hosting and future travel trends.

According to Airbnb’s recent Airbnb Report on Travel & Living, rural travel is a top summer trend as European travelers are getting ready to travel again. In May 2021 the volume of cross border search in Europe more than doubled compared to April and we are seeing a surge in interest in less populated destinations. In 2015, rural travel accounted for less than 10 percent of nights booked globally on Airbnb. From January to May 2021, it accounted for more than double that and was even triple that in some countries, including France (45%) and the UK (48%). 

“We’ve been in training for pandemic isolation in my rural area for 200 years! Post pandemic, people are more than ever seeking escape, which can be found in our green and quiet rural areas with lots of space for family activities, near to family and friends they usually live far away from.”

Marielle Terouinard, Host on Airbnb from Eure-et-Loir in France.

Last month, Airbnb announced the biggest top-to-bottom upgrade of the Airbnb service inspired by the major shift in how people are traveling. The announcement highlighted steps that streamline and simplify the process to become a Host. Half of new listings that were both activated and booked in early 2021 got a reservation request within four days, and the average annual earnings per Host who had welcomed at least one guest was $9,600.

The session also delved into the topic of regulation and the need for a harmonized approach to short term rental regulations that are fair and proportionate for home sharers in Europe. Airbnb recently announced its support for industry specific proposals on short term rentals at EU level, highlighting new progressive agreements with France, Greece and the Netherlands and the roll out of the new City Portal tool that gives governments and tourism organizations access to data, insights and compliance tools. 

These proposals were detailed in Airbnb’s pledge to  The Great Rebalance of European Travel, a series of commitments to work with communities across the region, spreading economic benefits to more people and preventing the return of the overtourism phenomenon, where too much tourism is concentrated in too few places. 

Airbnb Host Till Zieger (Germany)
Airbnb Host Marielle Terouinard (France)
Antonella Brugnola (Italy)
Airbnb Host Mirjam Boelaars (The Netherlands) – © Gijs Weehuizen

About Airbnb

Airbnb was born in 2007 when two Hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home, and has since grown to 4 million Hosts who have welcomed more than 900 million guest arrivals across over 220 countries and regions. Travel on Airbnb keeps more of the financial benefits of tourism with the people and places that make it happen. Airbnb has generated billions of dollars in earnings for Hosts, 90 percent of whom are individuals listing their own homes, more than half of whom are women, and one in five employed Hosts are either teachers or healthcare workers. In 2019, Airbnb directly supported 300,000 jobs in just 30 destinations, averaging nine jobs for every 1,000 guest arrivals. Travel on Airbnb also has generated more than $3.4 billion in tax revenue for 29,000 jurisdictions around the world. Airbnb has helped advance more than 1,000 regulatory frameworks for short-term rentals, including in 70% of our top 200 geographies (pre-pandemic). In late 2020, to support our continued expansion and diversification, we launched the City Portal to provide governments with an automated one-stop shop that supports data sharing and compliance with local registration rules. We continue to invest in innovations and tools to support our ongoing work with governments around the world to advance travel that best serves communities.