Who governs Airbnb: new economy on the streets of Porto (April 2019)

  • Who governs Airbnb: the new economy on the streets of Porto

  • By Luis Carvalho, Pedro Chamusca, Thiago Mendes, Jose Alberto Rio Fernandes. Published as a conference paper, by Centro de Estudos em Geografia e Ordenamento do Território (CEGOT), at the University of Porto in April 2019

  • Original title in Portuguese: Quem governa a Airbnb: a nova economia nas ruas do Porto

  • Abstract (translated via Google translate):

    • This paper discusses the narrative of "sharing" and "micro-entrepreneurship" associated with the diffusion of the Airbnb platform in cities, confronting it with evidence about the type of properties, concentration of owners and volume of revenue in the case of the city of Porto.

    • The paper notes that the number of "microentrepreneurs" sharing their home or a room in their home has dropped, while the number of “professional hosts” (i.e. who own and rent multiple properties on a full-time basis), now accounts for about a third the company's global revenue and is decisively influencing the housing dynamics in cities globally.

    • The number of Airbnb properties in Porto (and its immediate surroundings) has increased at an exponential rate over the past few years. The first Airbnb property in Porto, listed in 2009, was a private room in an apartment. In 2019, most of the offer on Airbnb consists of entire houses or apartments rented primarily for tourist purposes.

    • In May 2018, the more than 15,000 existing Airbnb properties in the Area Metropolitana do Porto were owned by approximately 7,542 owners. But nowadays, 20 owners rent almost 1000 properties (6% of the total number of properties listed on Airbnb) and are responsible for more than 8% of the total Airbnb income.

    • The paper concludes that, while there has been some positive impact of Airbnb on the housing maket and economy in Porto (refurbishment of destitute buildings in Porto, revenue generation and creation of new economic activities), the arrival of Airbnb has also transformed the identity and cultural profile of the city.

  • Keywords: Porto, Portugal, Airbnb, tourism, tourist apartments, tourist flats, financialisation, new economy, shared economy, short-term rentals

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