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Airbnb says it doesn’t hurt hotels

The service already lists 3,800 flats in Budapest, and more are signing up.

The sharing economy website Airbnb.com lets people rent out their flats online, providing tourists with an alternative to booking a hotel.

The service reports that more than 40 million guests have used Airbnb since its founding in 2008. Until three years ago, most of the users were in the United States, but today the majority of Airbnb stays are in Europe.

While it offers an accommodation service, Airbnb insists it does not take business away from the hotel industry.

Patrick Robinson, a spokesman for Airbnb in this part of the world, responded to questions from the Budapest Business Journal about use of the service in Hungary.

Can you give a rough estimate of how many people provide flats and homes through Airbnb in Hungary?

Currently there are more than 6,700 listings in Hungary (3,800 of them in Budapest), with a yearly growth of 70%. The number of bookings by travelers staying in homes listed on Airbnb went up 145%, which means travellers are excited by this unique travel experience and want to experience Hungarian hospitality.

Do you think that the broad availability of accommodation that Airbnb provides is beneficial to the local tourism industry?

Airbnb hosts are regular, local people who share their homes and use the additional income to afford living costs. They provide guests with the opportunity to book unique listings and to experience Hungary like a local. Across the world, 81% of hosts share only the home in which they live, and 74% of properties are outside of the main hotel districts.

Do you think that the city’s hotels see a drop in business due to Airbnb?

Hospitality is a growing industry and there is enough room for everyone. Hotel occupancy rates are higher than ever and we strongly believe we’re helping more people to travel, which is good news for everyone. Recent figures show that Hungary has experienced a growth in revenue per available room of 18.6% compared to the previous year.

Airbnb is complementary to the existing tourism industry in Hungary and spreads the economic benefits across cities to new communities and business that haven’t previously benefitted from tourism.

Do you think that the broader participation in the sharing economy made possible by Airbnb provides an overall boost to the local economy?

Airbnb gives travelers the chance to rent unique places, to stay in countries around the world, and makes communities better places to live, work and visit.

Travelers get to live like a local and explore neighborhoods and small businesses they might have missed if they stayed in a hotel. Countless Airbnb hosts have used the money they earned sharing their space to pay their bills, stay in their homes or pursue their dreams.

This is also good news for the cities around the world. Airbnb data shows that the average Airbnb guest is over 30 years old, educated and professional. They stay longer than hotel guests and are more likely to return. They also want to live like locals and spend their money at local businesses. This is spreading the economic benefits of tourism and having a substantial positive economic impact on local communities.