Statistics Explained

Short-stay accommodation offered via online collaborative economy platforms - impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

This is the stable Version.

Data extracted in December 2021

Planned article update: 14 June 2022



Platform tourism in the EU shifting to domestic destinations as Covid-19 pandemic hits: 58.3 % of nights were booked in the tourists’ home countries in 2020, compared with 33.2 % in 2019.

In 2020, 272 million nights booked through collaborative economy platforms - a decrease of almost 50 % compared with 2019.

Figure 1: Monthly guest nights in the EU, 2018-2020
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has profound impacts on tourism in the EU. Travel and lodging restrictions limit the possibilities of spending a vacation abroad, and potential tourists are reluctant in order to limit their exposure to health risks. An agreement between the European Commission and four large online collaborative economy platforms (Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor), signed in March 2020, allows Eurostat to compare guest nights spent in short-stay accommodation offered in 2019 and 2020. The expression “platform tourism”, used throughout this article, refers to short term rentals booked through these four platforms. This article accompanies the article on the pre-pandemic covering 2018 and 2019.

An important disclaimer for the reader is that both articles and the data only refer to the accommodation offered through these four platforms, and can – due to possible overlaps – not be added to other tourism statistics on holiday rentals or other types of accommodation such as hotels, available via European statistics on tourist accommodation. Additionally, only merged data for the four platforms is released: no data on individual platforms is disclosed.

This article uses data that are published as experimental statistics. Such statistics use new data sources or methods to match user needs, but have not yet reached the maturity of fully-fledged official statistics. The project pioneers Eurostat’s use of privately held data via a direct cooperation with the industry, to produce reliable data covering the entire EU in a coherent way.

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In 2020, nights booked through the platforms decreased by almost half

Figure 2: Annual guest nights in the EU, 2018-2020
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

In 2020, 272 million guest nights were spent in accommodation booked via one of the four platforms. This is a drastic decrease of 46.9 % compared with 2019 (see Figure 2), when almost 512 million guest nights were booked. The decrease coincides with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, which led to strict travel and lodging restrictions in most countries of the world and to a general reluctance to travel to limit exposure to health risks. 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.

While guest numbers slightly increased in January and February 2020 compared with 2019, the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe during March 2020 brought bookings close to zero in April and May (-93.2 % in April and -85.6 % in May, compared with April and May 2019; see Figure 1). After many countries eased travel restrictions in the summer, the number of nights spent recovered and followed the trajectory recorded in previous years, whilst still being much lower (-38.3 % in July and -25.8 % in August). However, the arrival of the second wave of the pandemic in autumn/winter 2020 led to another severe impact on booking numbers towards the end of the year (-71.8 % in November).

The decrease was most pronounced in southern Europe

Figure 3 and Table 1 show that platform tourism was hit unevenly across Europe. When looking at the nine countries with more than 10 million guest nights in 2019 (Figure 3), it becomes clear that traditional summer destinations around the Mediterranean Sea were hit much harder than the European average, with countries such as Spain (-58.1 %) and Italy (-60.2 %) affected more severely than France (-25.0 %) or Germany (-20.6 %). Overall, Table 1 and Figure 4 show that eight countries (Czechia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Hungary, Malta, Slovenia and Iceland) registered falls of more than 60 %, with Iceland exhibiting the largest relative decrease (-74.9 % from 2.2 million nights in 2019 to 549.000 in 2020; Figure 4). While the number of guest nights decreased in all 31 countries observed, Switzerland, Germany, France and Sweden were least affected, with relative decreases below 30 %.

Figure 3: Guest nights by country, 2019 vs 2020
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

Table 1: Guest nights spent in short-stay accommodation offered via online platforms, by country - 2019 vs 2020
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

Figure 4: Decrease in guest nights by country, 2020 compared with 2019
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

Huge discrepancies at regional level as tourism shifts to domestic destinations

The 27 Member States of the EU are divided into 334 statistical regions (NUTS 2 level). When analysing the decrease of platform tourism at regional level, it becomes clear that not all regions were affected equally, see Figure 5. Coastal regions along the Mediterranean Sea, as well as capital city regions, reported the highest decreases in 2020. The regions with the highest decreases were Eastern Macedonia and Thrace in Greece (-78.8 %), Prague in Czechia (-75.5 %), Iceland (-74.9 %), Eastern and Midland in Ireland (-74.9 %; includes Dublin) and Lazio in Italy (-74.7 %; includes Rome). On the other hand, there were even a handful of regions in Europe where an increase in platform tourism occurred against the prevalent trend, such as coastal regions in Germany (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern + 7.6 %) and the Netherlands (Drenthe +17.1 %), as well as several regions in France, Poland and Sweden, among others. These developments indicate that travellers were shifting from traditional summer destinations along the Mediterranean Sea to domestic resorts on the North and Baltic Seas, as well as avoiding large cities.

Figure 5: Map of the decrease in guest nights by NUTS2, 2020 compared with 2019
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

Share of domestic tourists increased from 33.2 % in 2019 to 58.3 % in 2020

In 2019, domestic tourism (referring to nights spent by tourists within their country of residence) was responsible for around one third of the total nights spent. Tourists from EU countries other than the host country accounted for around 37 % of guest nights, those from other European countries for around 15 %, while 14 % of travellers came from outside Europe. In 2020, as international travel became subject to increasingly severe restrictions, the share of domestic tourists increased to almost 60 %. Travel within the EU still had a significant share (around 28 %), while travel from outside the EU decreased drastically (8 % other Europe; 5 % for the rest of the world).

Figure 6: Guest nights by origin of the guest, EU-27, 2019 and 2020
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

Figure 7: Guest nights by origin of the guest, top countries, 2019 and 2020
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

Top city destinations losing around three quarters of guest nights in 2020

City destinations were hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Figure 8 shows the number of guest nights for the ten most popular cities in 2019 and 2020. All of them, except Berlin (-57.9 %) and Nice (-45.7 %), reported a decrease of more than 60 % of guest nights in 2020, with Rome losing 78.0 %, Barcelona 75.6 % and Prague and Budapest 73.5 % of guest nights.

Figure 8: Guest nights by city, 2019 vs 2020
Source: Eurostat (Experimental statistics)

Data sources

The article is based on data provided to Eurostat by four international platforms (Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group, Tripadvisor), following agreements on data exchange concluded 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 centres; 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 Excel.jpg 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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