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Airbnb stays double in Portugal over 2016

Airbnb stays double in Portugal over 2016

LISBON: Use of Airbnb nearly doubled in Portugal in 2016, the home rentals website said Thursday, as record tourist numbers flocked to the country some driven away from other sun spots by security fears.

A record 1.65 million guests stayed in properties listed by Airbnb in Portugal last year, up from 912,000 in 2015, the company said, with the capital Lisbon accounting for the bulk of the bookings. Founded in 2008 in San Francisco, Airbnb has become a popular alternative to hotels worldwide, allowing homeowners to rent out their properties by marketing them online for a fee.

But as Airbnb has rapidly expanded across the globe, it has often come into conflict with local rules and traditional hoteliers who see it as unfair competition. New York, Barcelona and Berlin are among the cities that have cracked down.

Under an agreement reached with Lisbon city hall, Airbnb in May began charging guests in the Portuguese capital a “tourist tax” of €1 per night. The tax has so far generated €1.74 million (RM8.2 million) which city authorities will use to develop local tourism projects, the statement said.

Despite the growth of Airbnb, Portuguese hotel revenues still rose by 15.1 per cent to €2.9 billion last year, national statistics institute INE said Wednesday.

Portugal welcomed 11.4 million foreign tourists in 2016 ― a sixth straight record year as security fears lure visitors away from rival sunshine destinations in the Mediterranean and Middle East. France, Tunisia, Turkey and Egypt have notably been hit by attacks in recent years which have rattled tourists.

The government announced Wednesday that the little-used Montijo military air base would be modified for commercial traffic because Lisbon’s sole international airport is nearing capacity.