Short-stay accommodation offered via online collaborative economy platforms
Data extracted in December 2021
Planned article update: 3 July 2023
Eurostat unlocks new data sources through partnership with Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor
In 2019, more than 512 million nights were booked via collaborative economy platforms – Paris was the most popular city
The collaborative economy had a significant impact on the tourist accommodation market in the past decade. Online platforms make it easier for service providers to advertise their rooms or apartments to potential guests and this easier access to the market, for owners as well as for guests, increased the attention for this segment of the market. This article accompanies the first release of data on the occupancy of tourist accommodation offered through four major international platforms (Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor) after they agreed to exchange data with the European Commission (Eurostat). It focuses on national, regional and city level data on guest nights spent in 2019. The most recent data, covering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the short-stay accommodation sector, is available in the article Short-stay accommodation offered via online collaborative economy platforms - impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Data on capacity (e.g. number of listings) will be published in a later phase of the project.
An important disclaimer for the reader is that the current article and data only discuss the accommodation offered through these four platforms, and can – due to possible double counting – not be put in relation to the entire market of holiday rentals or other types of accommodation such as hotels, available via already existing European statistics on tourist accommodation. It also needs to be noted that only merged data for the four platforms is released, no data on individual platforms is disclosed. Finally, the data is subject to revisions, and smaller geographical entities, such as regions at NUTS 3 level or individual cities, may be especially sensitive to these revisions.
This article uses data that are published as experimental statistics. Such statistics use new data sources or methods to better address user needs but have not yet reached the maturity of fully-fledged official statistics. The project pioneers the use by Eurostat of privately held data via a direct cooperation with the industry, to produce reliable data covering the entire EU in a coherent way.
In 2019, more than 1.4 million tourists per night slept in a bed booked via the platforms
In 2019, more than 512 million guest nights spent in the European Union (EU) were booked via one of the four platforms, (see left side of Table 1), or on average 1.4 million guests on a random day. The number of guest nights takes into account the number of nights spent during a stay and the number of tourists in the travel party. The concept is similar to the "nights spent at tourist accommodation establishments" generally used in official tourism statistics, and will be the focal volume indicator in this article. One in five guest nights was spent in Spain (106 million guest nights), followed by France (99 million). Italy (76 million guest nights), Germany (37 million) and Portugal (31 million) complete the top five. Further countries with over 10 million guest nights recorded in 2019 were Croatia (26 million), Greece (24 million guest nights), Poland (20 million) and Austria (16 million).
In the EU, two out of every three guest nights were spent by a tourist from another country (342 million guest nights, or 67 %). In 8 out of the 31 EU and EFTA countries in the analysis, the share of international guest nights exceeded 90 % (see Figure 1). In four countries, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Malta and Croatia, the international share was 95 % or over.
Looking at another indicator, the 512 million guest nights spent in the EU during 2019 represented 47 million stays (see right side of Table 1). This means that each minute, around 90 stays were booked and each day nearly 130 000. The highest number of stays were recorded in France (9.2 million stays), Spain (7.8 million stays) and Italy (7.0 million stays). These three destinations for tourists staying at accommodation facilities offered through these online platforms accounted for more than half of the total number of stays.
On average in the EU, throughout 2019, one booking or stay represented 11 guest nights (see Figure 2). The highest number of guest nights per stay (not to be confused with the average duration of the stay) was observed in the southern countries Cyprus (19 guest nights per stay), Malta (17 nights), Spain, Croatia and Portugal (13 nights). At the other end of the spectrum, a stay at a destination in Lithuania, Estonia, Iceland, Luxembourg, Romania and Finland led to, on average, no more than 7 guest nights. Not surprisingly, during the summer months of July and August when families usually take their main holidays, a booking involved on average 14 guest nights. In all EU countries, the number of guest nights spent in 2019 was higher than the year before. On average for the EU, a growth of 14 % was observed between 2018 and 2019.
More than one in three guest nights was spent in the peak months July and August
Seasonality in tourism generally peaks in the two summer months of July and August, and this is no different for the accommodation booked via online platforms. Around 36 % of guest nights spent during 2019 occurred in July (17 %) and August (19 %) (see Figure 3). The slowest months were January, February and November, each accounting for around 4 % of the total number of guest nights spent during 2019.
In terms of stays, the seasonal pattern was a bit less pronounced, with 28 % of the stays booked during the busiest months July (13 %) and August (15 %) (see Figure 4).
In all EU and EFTA countries, July and August are the two busiest months, but the level of seasonality (measured as the share of July and August in the total guest nights spent during the year) is highest in Croatia (62 % of annual guest nights recorded in July or August), Bulgaria (49 %), Greece (47 %) and Slovenia (46 %) (see Figure 5). In Luxembourg (21 %), Liechtenstein (24 %), Belgium and Czechia (both 25 %), the two summer months were less dominant.
One in seven guest nights in the EU reserved via platforms was spent in the regions Andalucia, Adriatic Croatia or Catalunia
The 27 Member States of the EU are divided in 242 statistical regions (NUTS 2 level). In 2019, in 11 of these regions the number of guest nights spent at accommodation facilities booked via the four platforms exceeded 10 million guest nights. In 3 regions, more than 20 million annual guests nights were recorded: Andalucia (25 million), Jadranska Hrvatska (Adriatic Croatia, 24 million) and Catalunia (21 million), these three regions account for 14 % of the guest nights spent in the EU that were reserved via the platforms. The 20 most popular regions account for nearly half (48 %) of the total number of guest nights spent via the platforms (see Table 2), most of these top 20 regions are located in Spain (6 regions), France or Italy (both 5 regions).
Looking at the country of origin of the guests, in 9 regions 95 % or more of the visitors came from abroad. It concerns the Croatian coast, Tirol in Austria and Western Slovenia, the three regions that include the capital cities Budapest, Prague and Lisbon, and the entire countries of Liechtenstein, Iceland and Malta (the entire countries equal one region each) (see Table 3). At the other end of the spectrum, the four predominantly domestic destinations were Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (94 % of guest nights by tourists from within Germany), Weser-Ems (90 %), Schleswig-Holstein (89 %) and Auvergne (88 % of guests nights recorded by French tourists).
Paris was the most popular city
The four platforms send data to Eurostat at the level of Local Administrative Units (LAUs), the data can be aggregated to the level of the most significant cities in Europe. In the EU and EFTA, 43 cities recorded more than one million guest nights in 2019 (see Table 4). The top city destinations for tourists booking their accommodation through one of the four platforms were the greater city of Paris (13.5 million guest nights, or 37 000 guests on an average night), Barcelona (11.0 million), Lisboa (10.2 million), Roma (10.1 million) and Madrid (7.9 million). Taken together, these five cities account for more than 10 % (52.8 million) of all nights spent in the EU booked via the four platforms (512 million).
When considering the local population figures, the European cities that had, on an average night in 2019, the highest ratio of tourists staying in platforms-listed accommodation as compared to local residents, were Benidorm and Benalmadena in Spain (6.0 % and 4.8 % respectively), Zadar and Pula in Croatia (4.5 % and 4.1 % respectively) and Venice in Italy (3.7 %) (see Table 5). To put these values in perspective, this ratio is 0.46 % for the EU as a whole.
In 7 European countries, the busiest city in terms of guest nights spent, represented more than half of the guest nights spent in the entire country (see Table 6). This was in particular the case in Hungary (Budapest, 74 %) and Czechia (Prague, 69 %), but also in Latvia (Riga, 66 %), Estonia (Tallinn, 64 %), Luxembourg (Luxembourg, 59 %), Malta (Valletta (greater city), 54 %) and Iceland (Reykjavik, 56 %). In five countries, the busiest city is not the capital city: Cyprus (Larnaka), Spain (Barcelona), Croatia (Split), Poland (Krakow) and Switzerland (Zürich).
The accommodation facilities were mainly entire dwellings and typically had fewer than 10 bedplaces
The data also allows the type of listings booked by tourists to be analysed. In the EU as a whole, most guest nights (94 %) were spent at facilities where the tourists could use the entire dwelling (apartment, house) (see Figure 6). Only in Luxembourg was just under one quarter of the guest nights spent in shared facilities. Looking at the size of the facilities, the majority of the guest nights (92 %) were spent in smaller accommodation with fewer than 10 bedplaces (see Figure 7).
This article is the first release of statistics on short-stay accommodation offered via online collaborative economy platforms. In the course of 2022, more detailed data will become available, including data by degree of urbanisation or coastal/non-coastal nature of the places visited, data by country or continent of origin of the guest, or data analysing the seasonality at subnational level. The underlying data is subject to revisions, and smaller geographical entities, such as regions at NUTS 3 level or individual cities, may be especially sensitive to these revisions.
Source data for tables and graphs
The article is based on data provided to Eurostat by four international platforms (Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group, Tripadvisor), following agreements on data exchange concluded in early 2020. The data covers short-stay accommodation in the EU and EFTA countries, offered by service providers via one of these four online collaborative economy platforms.
Scope and key concepts
- Scope: the data covers holiday rentals (excluding hotels and campsites) offered via four online collaborative economy platforms.
- Number of stays: number of times a facility offered via the platforms was occupied.
- Number of nights: number of nights a facility offered via the platforms was occupied
- Number of guest nights: number of nights spent during a stay, taking into account the size of the travel party; this article mainly focuses on this concept (e.g.: a family of four staying 3 nights in an apartment represents 1 stay, 3 nights and 12 guest nights).
- Domestic guest nights: guest nights spent by tourists who are residents of the country visited.
- International guest nights: guest nights spent by tourists who are non-residents to the country visited.
- Cities are those local administrative units (LAU) where at least 50 % of the population lives in an urban centre; an urban centre is a cluster of contiguous grid cells of 1 km2 with a density of at least 1 500 inhabitants per km2 and collectively a population of at least 50 000 inhabitants. A city can be composed of several local administrative units. For the purpose of these statistics, only ‘selected cities’ are considered, namely those cities that fulfil at least one of the following criteria: i. capital cities ; ii. cities having at least 200 000 inhabitants ; iii. other cities in a country that, jointly, account for 90 % of annual guest nights spent in cities of that country. Further information on the delineation of the ‘selected cities’, namely which local administrative units they comprise, can be found here.
The collaborative economy , also called the sharing economy, covers a great variety of sectors and is rapidly growing across Europe. In the tourism sector, the collaborative economy provides many exciting opportunities for citizens as consumers as well as for micro-entrepreneurs and SMEs. At the same time, its rapid development has led to challenges, particularly in popular tourist destinations. As a result, cities and other communities are seeking to strike a balance between promoting tourism, with the economic benefits it brings, and maintaining the integrity of local communities. To promote a balanced development of the collaborative economy, the Commission issued guidelines to EU countries in 2016 on how existing EU rules apply to the collaborative economy. A series of workshops in 2017 and 2018 identified policy principles and good practices specifically on collaborative short-term accommodation services.
In March 2020, the Commission reached a landmark agreement with Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor on data sharing. The agreement, signed between each platform and Eurostat on behalf of the European Commission, allows Eurostat to obtain key data from the four collaborative platforms and publish key statistics on short-term accommodation rentals concluded through these platforms on its website. In particular, platforms agreed to share, on a continuous basis, data on the number of nights booked and the number of guests. The privacy of citizens, including guests and hosts, is protected in line with applicable EU legislation and data will not allow individual citizens or property owners to be identified. The data provided by the platforms is then subject to statistical validation and aggregated and published by Eurostat.
The agreement has allowed, for the first time, access to reliable data about holiday and other short-stay accommodation offered via these collaborative economy platforms. It helps to close an information gap, since data on holiday homes, apartments and rooms in otherwise private buildings are often outside the scope of existing tourism registers.
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