Prague seeks restrictions on Airbnb to combat overtourism

Czech Republic: In an effort to fight the continued rise of tourism, the city of Prague has announced its intent to limit Airbnb.

The introduction of Airbnb has massively changed the social makeup of the city, transforming sleepy residential districts into tourist hubs.

The number of offerings on the site jumped from 5,537 to over 13,000 in two years, most of which are for full flats. Because of this, locals have reported a massive jump in noise and in rental prices.

Limitations are a project for the city’s new liberal mayor Zdeněk Hřib, who seeks to cut Prague’s tourist haven reputation. He said to the Guardian: “In the past, you could limit the amount of tourists in the city simply by approving a certain number of hotels of certain capacity during the process of building permits.”

“Now in Prague there is no possibility for the city to limit the accommodation capacity for tourists.”

His plans include petitioning the country’s central legislative body, asking for greater independent local regulatory authority. While these have been rejected in the past, Hřib hopes that awareness of the problem will increase appetite for regulation.

The city saw nearly eight million tourists flocking to the city in 2018, a tripling in numbers since 2000. Property values have skyrocketed to follow, with housing prices rising to 14 times an average Czech salary.

Local media figures have launched their complaints as well. They have complained both of the alienation that the tourism has created, as well as the fact that tourism has diverted city resources away from the needs of locals.

Prague is not alone in its fight against Short Term Rentals. Paris and Amsterdam have recently added limits intended to fight tourism in their cities, while Scottish parliament executed a full overhaul of local powers related to the industry.

Prague has joined a coalition of 10 cities sending a letter to the European Commission, requesting an update of its laws.

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