Airbnb Boom in Adriatic

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Airbnb takes Croatia by storm!

The Airbnb platform in Croatia has achieved more than 100 percent growth over the past two years, reports

The popularity of Airbnb is increasingly rising among renters, who mostly use the platform as another distribution channel. The authorities aren’t interfering as the service still doesn’t pose a significant threat to the so called grey economy. The online platform transparently shows guest ratings that are crucial to market placement and survival on the Airbnb portal, often more efficiently than inspectors.

The government still needs to resolve the problem of charging sojourn tax to those who aren’t working in accordance with Croatian regulations. According to the recent Airbnb data, Croatia has a little less than 103,000 accommodation facilities at this moment, which is a significant increase compared to only 36,000 in May 2015. As it is known, Airbnb is a platform for the renting and sharing of up to 25 rooms and includes professionally rented accommodation, such as boutique hotels, hostels and boarding houses. Gerard Skehan from the Airbnb communications department reveals that their turnover in Croatia has risen by 59% as of last year, and the largest number of apartments rented via Airbnb are in Split, Zadar, Pula, Korčula and Dubrovnik.

Zagreb currently has more than 3300 active accommodation capacities, which is almost one third more than last year and has also seen a 68 percent increase in visitors who stayed overnight in Zagreb via Airbnb since last year. The average income that the hosts in Croatia earned via Airbnb was $ 2,100, mostly owing to seasonality, as most of the apartments are rented over the period of 1-3 months. Airbnb statistics show that on average the guests are extremely satisfied with the offer of apartments and rooms in Croatia, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5, with 13 percent of the apartments having the perfect score of 5.0 and 2800 renters enjoying the status of a “superhost”. Airbnb does not specify the number of square metres, devices or towels. Hosts are required to abide by their standards and expectations, which are clearly stated on the site, including security, credible presentation of services and fair customer relationship.  

“We have developed a range of services that enable development of mutual trust, including tools for both the host and the guest who can get detailed information about each other before booking the accommodation based on detailed profiles, authentic reviews, verification and message platforms,” explains Skehan. Skehan specifically points out that Airbnb is very pleased with the guest ratings, which are extremely positive.” In Croatia, we have over 2800 “superhosts”. Superhosts are experienced hosts who provide an exceptionally good service to guests,” explains Skehan. To reach such a status, the host must meet all the required conditions, including at least 10 realized reservations in the past year, a response rate of 90% or more, at least 80% of 5 star ratings, also taking into account that at least half of the guests left a review, and the host should realize all confirmed reservations without cancellation. Also, those who are constantly receiving low ratings for the overall impression may expect their ad to be removed from the platform. Nedo Pinezić, an expert on family accommodation, believes that the presence of Airbnb in Croatia is good news.

“It is one of the most powerful intermediary platforms in the world which operates according to the motto “familiar guest staying at the familiar host “. This hosting method is in line with the contemporary trends of experiencing the destination to the fullest/ complete destination experience. The government must adapt the regulatory framework to this new economy that benefits a wide range of people,” says Pinezić. Tourism consultant Siniša Topalović explains why Airbnb in Croatia is not a big problem in terms of the bloom of the grey economy, as opposed to some other destinations in other countries that are banning Airbnb.

”In Croatia, renters who use Airbnb as just another distribution channel are mostly people who were already part of the Croatian market of family accommodation and mostly do business in accordance with the regulations. In the case of the renters who are not formally registered, the government should play its part by either strengthening surveillance or reaching an agreement with Airbnb on the automatic billing of the sojourn tax,” explains Topalović.

Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli believes that it is necessary to establish quality regulations and standards which are necessary to protect the end users, but also enable the market equity of stakeholders in the system, whether it is tourism or some other industry in the sharing economy.

Specific measures haven’t been mentioned yet. Regarding the unregistered real estate advertised via Airbnb, which is definitely the case of illegal tax evasion, it is important to distinguish private persons who rent their own real estate, mostly just one, and professional renters who rent several real estates,” says consultant Sanja Čižmar.” Statistics show a growing trend of these professional renters who rent 4 or more accommodation facilities, both in Europe and Croatia. That is why Barcelona, which is the fourth city in Europe in the number of properties offered on Airbnb (after Paris, London and Rome), has stopped issuing apartment rental permits. In Croatia, however, the number of renters who rent 4 and more properties is not large; it makes up 5% of the total number of active renters in Zagreb, 8% in Split and 14% in Dubrovnik. If we look at the number of renters with 2 or more properties, the percentage of the total number of active renters are: Zagreb 23%, Split 28%, Dubrovnik 40%,” reveals Čižmar.


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