TOURISM

Hoteliers accuse online platforms of favoring short-term rentals

Chamber files formal complaint against electronic agencies listing unlicensed hotels

Hoteliers accuse online platforms of favoring short-term rentals

The Hellenic Chamber of Hotels filed a formal complaint against online travel agencies (OTAs) with the Competition Commission on Wednesday, accusing them of claiming that up to 40% of the accommodation facilities they advertise are hotels, when that is not the case, Kathimerini understands.

This is the first battle in the war between hotels and the businesses that operate as accommodation companies without the regulatory and tax obligations that hotels have, under the mantle of short-term rentals.

The accusation describes how many international as well as Greek travelers go online to look for hotels at Greek destinations, and says that up to four out of every 10 options presented on websites such as Booking.com and the Expedia Group do not concern hotels, while there is no notification of that, or any star category.

According to the same data, the average rate of online ads across Greece presenting themselves as hotels but which aren’t amounts to 30%; however, in the case of Athens and popular destinations in the southern Aegean, such as Rhodes, that rate approaches 40%.

Surveys conducted on behalf of hotel associations show that short-term rentals of rooms or apartments managed by professionals and not individual hosts, thereby operating like hotels, constitute an activity that amounted to some 500 million euros in 2019. A Grant Thornton study estimates that the share of short-term rentals among total travel receipts (€18.2 billion in 2019) came to 10%, while a survey by the Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation (INSETE) speaks of turnover in excess of €2 billion in 2019.

The complaint by the entity that represents some 10,000 hotels across Greece is aimed at “restoring the digital tourism market to a state of legitimacy, transparency and operability serving both the chamber’s members, which are all of the country’s hotels and camping facilities, and the consumers themselves.” It goes on to ask the watchdog to have the OTAs stop advertising facilities not licensed as hotels.