Eurostat releases first key data on European rental sector

Europe: Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union [EU], has published the first key data on short-term accommodation booked via four of the most prominent online travel agencies [OTAs].

The statistics, which are being regularly updated by Eurostat, cover national, regional and city-level data on the number of stays booked and the number of nights spent in 2018 and 2019 in accommodation reserved on Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor.

It follows on from a landmark agreement reached in March 2020 between Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor on data sharing. The platforms began collaborating with Eurostat [on behalf of the European Commission], allowing the agency to obtain key data from each site and publish experimental short-term rental statistics from the research on its website.

Among the key findings in the Eurostat report, it was reported that guests spent more than 554 million nights in an accommodation booked via Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group or Tripadvisor in the EU in 2019, the year before the global outbreak of Covid-19. It meant that, on a typical day, around 1.5 million guests slept in a bed booked through one of the aforementioned platforms, and the number of nights booked in short-term accommodation via the four platforms rose by 14 per cent between 2018 and 2019.

Meanwhile, Paris [15.1 million guest nights] topped the list of most booked city destinations using one of the OTAs, followed by Barcelona [11.3 million]; Rome [10.4 million]; Lisbon [10.5 million]; and Madrid [8.3 million].

In addition, the five most popular destination countries for stays booked via the four private platforms began with Spain [112 million guest nights]; France [109 million]; Italy [83 million]; Germany [40 million]; and Portugal [33 million].

The goal of the study is to collate more complete statistics on tourist accommodation in Europe and allow public authorities to better understand the development of the collaborative economy [including short-term accommodation rentals services], as well as support evidence-based policies.

Collecting the data will offer valuable insight into the importance of the collaborative economy for the tourism sector before the Covid pandemic particularly as European official statistics were only providing limited coverage of the short-term rental segment prior to the release of this latest study. This is due to the fact that data on the rental of holiday homes, apartments and rooms in otherwise private buildings has primarily fallen outside of the scope of existing tourism registers and surveys, until now.

The Commission is pledging to publish its findings on the sector for 2020 later this year, as a means of supporting policymakers in creating a more sustainable, innovative and resilient tourism ecosystem as we emerge from the pandemic.

Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy, said in a statement: “This successful collaboration between Eurostat and the four main platforms for short-term rental accommodation is a model for providing more comprehensive and reliable statistics through access to privately held data. The figures published today are an important source of information for European public authorities and can contribute to better policy-making, while protecting personal information.”

Commissioner Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic heavily impacted the tourism industry, a key sector of the EU’s economy. Like other European industries, the future of tourism will hinge on our collective ability to transition to a greener, more digital and resilient future.

“By 2030, Europe should be a top quality destination known globally for its sustainable offer, and attracting responsible and environmentally conscious travellers. The comprehensive data on short-term accommodation rentals published today will support public authorities in developing evidence-based policies,” he added.

The full release package is available here, and covers data for more than 200 European cities and regions. The report also analyses the country of origin of the guest and the seasonality of the number of bookings and of guest nights.

In the short-term rental sector, the European Commission said that it is working with cities across the continent to address issues that have arisen as a result of the rapid growth of the vertical and that it is maintaining a continuous exchange with local regulators to address possible policy actions and implement good practices for public authorities in line with EU law.

The privacy of citizens, including guests and hosts, is protected in line with applicable EU legislation and the data does not allow individual citizens or property owners to be identified.