The online home-rental site Airbnb has agreed to collect “tourist taxes” for the city of Paris in an apparent attempt to quell growing criticism of its success in the French capital.
With more than 50,000 flats and houses advertised for rent – from around €150 (£109) a night to €1,000 (£730) – Paris is by far the biggest market for Airbnb worldwide, with the number of residences available having risen from just a few thousand in 2012.
The success has angered hotels, including some of the the city’s five-star “palaces”. It has also annoyed Parisians who complain that their quiet residential blocks are being invaded by noisy and insensitive tourists. In an attempt to prove that it is a good corporate citizen – and here to stay – Airbnb has agreed to collect the small daily tourist charge levied on hotel guests by the Paris town hall.
The website’s customers in Paris will have to pay an extra 0.83 euro centimes (60p) per person per night which will be handed over to the city’s authorities. Previously, accommodation owners were supposed to collect the tax but many failed to do so.
“We are grateful for our strong relationship with the French authorities and are proud to launch this simplified tax process in our number one city,” said Nicolas Ferrary, Airbnb director in France.
The shift will only partially assuage the apparent anger of Paris hotel owners and managers who blame Airbnb, at least in part, for a small – less than 1 per cent – fall in hotel bookings this year. Even the most expensive and renowned Paris hotels have spoken about feeling the pinch recently.
The Bristol, close to the Élysée Palace and a favoured haunt of Hollywood stars, suffered a 20 per cent drop in revenue in the first half of this year.
In terms of being potential competition, most of the 50,000 Parisian homes offered for short lets on Airbnb are relatively cheap. There are, however, around 400 properties which cost at least €500 (£365) a night and about 40 which charge €1,000.
Travel agenda - 8/05/2015
Travel agenda - 8/05/2015
1/8 Weed lead
The Barbados authorities have organised a clean-up to help clear the drifting seaweed that is blighting many of the island's beaches. The NationNews reports that the algae, which comes from the Sargasso Sea, has been piling up in much bigger quantities than usual. Other Caribbean islands are, so far, unaffected.
2/8 Economy plus
A new vessel, Baie de Seine, has joined the Brittany Ferries fleet, adding extra économie sailings to France and Spain. Along with sister ship Etretat, the line offers cheap, no-frills ferries from Portsmouth to Santander and Bilbao in Spain, and Le Havre in France.
3/8 Mex checks
Following last weekend's downing of an army helicopter by a drugs cartel in the Mexican state of Jalisco, the Foreign Office is warning of disturbances at locations including Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. "Stay in the tourist areas if possible and follow local advice," says the new bulletin.
4/8 Plenty of isles
Plenty of isles
Lundy, Rocker, Dogger, Fair Isle is a new book celebrating Britain's islands – and one that was never really there. From abandoned St Kilda to Hy Brasil – a non-existent isle that for centuries appeared on maps – the entries include illustrations and quotes.
5/8 Knight riders
Disneyland Paris is the location for a new Star Wars Jedi Training Academy, scheduled to open on 11 July. Children aged seven to 12 will be able to wield a lightsaber to fend off Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers as they master the art of using the Force in their bid to become a Jedi Knight.
6/8 Brutal Paris
Paris's Centre Pompidou is currently showing a retrospective of the work of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier. The exhibition runs until 3 August and features more than 300 drawings, paintings, models and more by the controversial Brutalist architect.
7/8 West by NW
West by NW
Manchester gets reconnected with Los Angeles and Boston from next summer. Thomas Cook Airlines, which is becoming the leading transatlantic carrier from Britain's busiest airport outside London, will fly twice a week to LAX and the Massachusetts state capital from early May to late October 2016.
8/8 London live
At the top of the "walkie-talkie" skyscraper in the City of London – officially 20 Fenchurch Street – a Sky Garden gives spectacular capital views. Unlike the nearby Shard, access to it is free; you must, though, book in advance online, and bring identification.
These luxury flats are proving attractively anonymous to some celebrities and other potentates, who might find Paris hotels too “public”. Some Airbnb properties even provide extras such as concierge services. The hotels complain that the competition is unfair because home owners – who are allowed under French law to sub-let their home for 12 weeks a year – do not face the same burden of regulation and taxes.
For its part, Airbnb has previously stated that it is not in competition with luxury hotels, saying the accommodation offered provides a different experience.
Others are also seemingly unhappy. Some residents in tourist areas around the city, such as Le Marais, complain that their quiet apartment blocks are becoming holiday resorts in the summer months. “It’s party time every night,” one Parisian man told Le Figaro. “The young guests are often very drunk. They shout and stop me from sleeping.”Reuse content