Major UK cities such as Edinburgh have seen a massive rise in Airbnb rooms recently, and while this might seem like a good thing for prospective tourists, many of the residents already living there are worried about the effect it might have on their communities. Some might think this is paranoia, but the concerns are likely quite warranted: Airbnb bookings in London sit around eighty thousand rooms, which is higher than any other city in the UK.
At first glance, that number seems like it would make quite the impact, but in reality the situation is worse in cities such as the aforementioned Edinburgh, which has about twelve thousand rooms listed on Airbnb. That’s significantly less than London in sheer numbers, but twelve thousand is a larger portion of the population in Edinburgh than eighty thousand is in London. That being the case, the impact could be much more profound if the trend continues.
On one hand, this kind of large increase in tourism does have some beneficial effects on the economy most of the time. According to Airbnb itself (take that with a grain of salt), their contribution to the tourism industry has increased the Scottish economy by about £1.5 million a day, and boosted the UK economy as a whole by £3.5 billion a year. Of course, there’s a degree of uncertainty in how accurate these claims are, but world history is evidence enough that tourism often serves to stimulate the economy of a country.
On the other hand, local residents of areas that are growing in regards to available Airbnb rooms are perfectly valid. The issue of available housing for residential purposes is warranted, and so is the fear of whether or not taxes will be meted out fairly for traditional hotels versus Airbnb guesthouses. And of course, the behavior of visiting tourists in residential areas is a concern as well.
Common incidents include late night parties and activities that disrupt the schedules and peace of individuals that live there, as well as some more specific scenarios in which tourists have accidentally barged into the homes of residents without realizing that it isn’t the flat they’re renting. These types of issues are fairly common and raise a typical issue that local residents often have with an increase in tourism. But unfortunately, there aren’t too many ways to go about fixing these problems.
The UK is looking at regulations and restrictions that could somehow mitigate the concerns that people have, but options are scarce. Some ideas include having a limit on how many Airbnb listings are allowed, while other plans just include increasing security regulations and checks to discourage the arrival of undesirable tourists.
Either way, the situation in the UK is an indicator of how Airbnb will affect all sorts of places in the world as it continues to grow. New problems are arising and new solutions will need to be considered to meet them, but no one is sure how to best go about solving this growing tourism crisis.