Only three or four years ago a young couple stopped me one evening and asked if I knew where a foreign family called X lived, because they were renting a room from them.
Later I mentioned that casually to a friend who said oh yes, there’s this new company through which you can stay in a family home, get to see a bit more of local culture, and they can make a few euros.
Who could have foreseen where this homely, amateurish-sounding scheme would lead?
Last year I heard from an acquaintance who lives with her young family in central Chania that they had been given notice to quit by their landlord officially because he needed the property for himself, but in fact because he’d cottoned on to the potential of Airbnb, and was turning all of his several properties over to it.
I thought hers was a sad story, but had no idea then that it represented in microcosm a phenomenon with huge implications for many more countries than Greece.
Increasingly now there are reports like this one:https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... ity-locals
on the deleterious impact which Airbnb is having on the rental market, already hugely over-heated, in cities like London. Because of it the young, the low-paid, have even less chance of finding something affordable to rent in the big cities of the world.
I find it profoundly depressing that what started as a pleasant, human-scale idea working to mutual advantage of ‘landlord’ and ‘tenant’ should have been hijacked so quickly and profitably by big business.
On the other hand…the initial idea is still a good one, and some of my best friends are now (legally) on the Airbnb books. They are of course nice people so they’re doing a good job of sticking to the original concept, throwing in free extras and making new acquaintances with the people who seem to love staying with them. Me, I’m just glad I don’t have a spare room so I’m not tempted.
Incidentally The Greek retail trade generally is in the doldrums, and mostly stagnant for the past three years except for the supermarket sector, which is showing a modest increase because, they reckon, of all those tourists self-catering in their Airbnb accommodation….