Crete taverna owners should be rejoicing at the news Airbnb is making inroads into the monopoly hotels and resorts have had on tourist accommodations. Let’s face it, hordes of vacationers filling their plates with industrialized gastronomy at an all-inclusive should be a nightmare for locals. And Airbnb’s news short terms renters spent $25 billion at restaurants in 2018 should become a vision.
Airbnb’s data from 2018 has revealed the whopping truth of vacationers spend on food and beverage worldwide. And for January-October 2019 and October-December 2018 periods, Airbnb’s guest community is expected to spend over $30 billion dollars at restaurants and cafes in 46 countries and regions in 2019. Talk about a lesson in microeconomics. Money spent at the big resort stays at the big resort, but Airbnb just gets paid for the bed, not the breakfast. Just saying.
In Europe alone, Airbnb travelers spent an estimated 11 billion dollars at restaurants and cafes in 2018, and as the Airbnb bookings go up, so do the taverna revenues. What, you think a TUI resort’s win is not some family-owned tavern or restaurant’s loss? Food is business and money, come on. And this is one reason why the Hellenic Chamber of Hotels wants to emphasize restaurants while regulating Airbnb. Granted, illegal short-term rentals are a huge problem in places like Athens, but the shared economy giant is doing what it can to educate and self-regulate too. The problem, like I’ve said many times, is the balance.
In the give and take that is the vacation economy in Crete, the seaside all-inclusive and cruise lines have tipped the economics away from local sustainability. Look at the traveler, for instance. Somebody looking to stay in an inside cabin on a cruise ship to island-hop the Aegean is just not going to be laying out cash to eat onshore, let alone shop the retailers to carry home a steamer trunk of souvenirs. And every breakfast, lunch, and dinner served at some buffet line, it’s not really savings, now is it? All-inclusive does not mean you don’t pay for what you get.
The balance that needs to take shape is not about regulating only Airbnb. For Crete, there needs to be regulation and qualification of new resorts, hotels, and boutique conversions. The hoteliers would be smart to support a limitation of new seaside hotels, and local restauranteurs would be wise to support them in limited this market. I have approached a couple of resort owners about just this, but so far my words fall on deaf ears. The consensus is the same as the narrative of government in Athens – make Greece into Europe’s Florida. And I’ll leave the tavern owner reading this to wonder who runs the restaurants in Florida these days?
Food, pun intended, for thought.