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“Bettina” has 366 apartments on Airbnb, hotel trade group points out

by Laura Cavestri

“The swamp is spreading unchecked” was the extremely harsh jab by Italy’s hotel trade group Federalberghi made in a report presented at TTG Incontri, a travel industry trade fair in Rimini, referring to Airbnb.

According to the association, the Airbnb portal, in August of 2016, offered 222,786 places to stay in Italy (from 234 in 2009), stressing the service’s exponential growth—which “does not correspond with a significant variation in the number of sites the were officially authorized” (the number of non-hotel structures recorded by official statistical agency ISTAT was 104,918 in 2009 and now stands at 121,984).

Rome leads with 23,889 lodgings: Milan has 13,200.

“We compiled a list of organizations that offer rooms on the major web portals and we put this directory at the disposition of national and local authorities, as well as investigative authorities that wish to shed light on the phenomenon,” said Bernabò Bocca, Federalberghi president.

“Rome is the city most involved in the phenomenon, with 23,889 lodgings available, followed by Milan with 13,200, Florence with 6,715, Venice with 5,166 and Naples with 3,040,” Federalberghi’s report said.

Bocca described “four big lies” listed in the report that emerged from an analysis of lodgings offered in August of 2016 on the Airbnb portal.

First of all, the report said, “it’s not true that this is a form of supplemental income. For all intents and purposes, these are business enterprises.”

For example, “Bettina manages 366 apartments, Daniel 293 and Simona 260.”

“In the second place, it’s not true that these are seasonal activities. Most of them (79.3%) refer to lodging that is available for more than six months a year,” it said.

“It’s also not true that the experience is shared with the owner. Most of the ads (70.2%) refer to rental of an entire apartment where no one is living,” the report continued.

And lastly, “In the end, it’s not true that the new options tend to develop only where there is a lack of offering. These lodging are concentrated mostly in the largest cities and major tourist attractions where there is already a great official supply.”

It’s not only an Italian problem

“For example, in Barcelona, anyone who wants to rent out their apartment for short times must get a license,” said Federalberghi. ”In Amsterdam, non-professional enterprises can host a maximum of four people. In each case, if the activity lasts for more than 60 days, there's an automatic requirement to open VAT registration.”

“In New York, contracts on locations for less than 30 days must be managed only by the entity directly receiving the business. And in Berlin, violating the rules on short stays carries a fine of €100,000.”

Airbnb responded with a statement

“It’s frustrating, although not surprising, to see ongoing attacks on new forms of tourism that allow citizens to augment their income and to expand the number of tourists visiting our country,” the company said. “The typical Airbnb host in Italy earns €2,300 by sharing their space for 26 days a year. Last year, more than 3.6 million travelers were accommodated, generating an economic impact of €3.4 billion.”