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Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, or 'off the beaten track'? Centripetal demand in Airbnb

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In the light of the debate on the growth of visitor numbers to city destinations and the sociocultural footprint of urban tourists, the spatial distribution of urban vacation rentals is a key question: does 'sharing', as Airbnb has claimed, spread visitors to peripheral neighbourhoods and contribute to decreasing the congestion in traditional tourist hotspots? Or does it, on the contrary, worsen this congestion problem, with its consequences for the perception of tourism by residents, in traditional tourist centres? This article analyses the spatial concentration of Airbnb listings in 26 European cities in terms of a distance decay from a central point. Besides the concentration of the offer, it studies the decay of business performance according to the distance from the city centre. The study finds an exponential decay for the number of listings. There is a strong effect on financial performance and a more limited effect on rental performance. While several single city studies show that Airbnb, instead of spreading tourism to neighbourhoods, led to greater concentration, these findings show that these were not incidental excesses but a common development pattern for Airbnb. Implications are that the authenticity sought by Airbnb users is not the same as the search for an unspoilt neighbourhood life. Furthermore, it means that benevolent policies towards urban vacation rentals, aimed at spreading tourism, are based on a false assumption.
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Keywords: Airbnb; authenticity; collaborative consumption; gentrification; overtourism; sharing economy; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000406207774 Hotelschool The Hague

Publication date: June 1, 2020

This article was made available online on April 14, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, or ‘off the beaten track’? Centripetal demand in Airbnb".

More about this publication?
  • Hospitality & Society is an international multidisciplinary social sciences journal focusing upon hospitality and exploring its connections with wider social and cultural processes and structures. The journal welcomes submissions from various disciplines and aims to be an interactive forum expanding frontiers of knowledge and contributing to the literature on hospitality social science. Articles that stimulate debate, discussion and exchange across disciplines are welcomed, as well as review essays or short topical pieces that are provocative and problematic in nature.

    Hospitality & Society is the official journal of the Council for Hospitality Management Education
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