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Airbnb CEO Chesky urges Parisians to host during 2024 Olympics

France: Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, is urging residents in Paris [both existing and prospective hosts] to put their homes up for a short-term rental basis during the 2024 Olympics, with up to half a million people expected to book via the platform for the duration of the Games [26 July – 11 August].

Speaking to Reuters, Chesky quelled concerns that prices would skyrocket in the French capital due to demand from sports fans and make it unaffordable for them, indicating that they would remain moderate the more listings that come onto the market.

That echoes statistics being released by the tourism office in Paris, which estimates that approximately 16 million will visit the city and its wider region during the Olympics and Paralympics. Meanwhile, the city is also expecting to accommodate some 10,500 athletes, 4,400 para-athletes and 206 delegations for the Olympics alone, according to SchengenVisaInfo.com.

Chesky said: “A lot of people need housing. They don’t have enough hotel rooms here in Paris to accommodate everyone.

“Surveys suggest as many as 20 per cent of people in Paris are interested in hosting. If they put their [homes] on Airbnb and there is enough housing, prices will stay within reason.

“If not enough people put their homes on Airbnb and people don’t have enough… hotels and they can’t build more hotels, that’s going to increase prices,” he added.

The Airbnb CEO continued by saying that the platform would give higher prominence to listings that offer the best value for money in its search results, at the same time as hotel prices will inevitably increase too.

Airbnb became a member of The Olympic and Paralympic Partner programmes in November 2019 as part of an estimated $500 million deal. The long-term partnership spans nine years, including at least the Summer Olympics in Tokyo [2021], Paris [2024] and Los Angeles [2028], two Winter Olympic Games [Beijing in 2022 and Milan-Cortina in 2026], and five editions of the Paralympics.

The home-sharing platform became the Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner in the exclusive category ‘Unique Accommodation Products and Unique Experiences Services’.

Four months after the partnership was unveiled, it was announced that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics would be delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while the majority of events were held without fans in the venues, scuppering the opportunity to secure much-needed brand exposure for Airbnb.

However, the holding of the Olympic and Paralympics next year comes against the tense backdrop of a standoff between Airbnb [and other short-term rental booking platforms] and Paris. Platforms are bracing themselves for the enforcement of tighter regulations in the city ahead of next summer’s Games.

The French Government is preparing to sign a charter later this year that will require platforms like Airbnb to display notifications on listings in Paris that are being priced significantly higher than those of a similar size for stays between 26 July and 11 August – the dates when the 2024 Olympics will be held. Reports suggest that the new legislation is set to come into effect by the start of 2024.

Paris, along with Bordeaux, Marseille, Lille, Nice, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Nantes and Toulouse, is also currently hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup, causing searches for accommodation in the city to surge by more than 30 per cent in Q2 compared to Q1, while the number of listings has also shot up by more than 60 per cent.

Elsewhere in France, a coalition of 20 communities, including Marseille, another Olympic host city, called on the French Government to tighten restrictions on short-term rental platforms in June. The groups have criticised Airbnb for driving up property prices in towns and cities across the country and restricting housing supply.

Three years ago, Anne Hidalgo, Paris’ mayor since 2014, announced plans to hold a non-binding referendum on Airbnb and other platforms’ short-term rental operations in the city in a bid to free up more residential accommodation in the capital. She has since laid out plans for a “greener” future in Paris in the wake of the pandemic, which includes minimising new construction for the Games and halving carbon emissions during the 2024 Games compared to the average for the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games respectively.

At the moment, only principal residences can be freely rented out to tourists in France, however they first need to register at the town hall [mairie] and rent out for no more than 120 days a year.

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