Saturday 22 October 2016

Airbnb's French numbers up by 86pc as traditional travel firms feel terror fallout

Richard Weiss

Published 22/09/2016 | 02:30

Tourists at Notre Dame in Paris
Tourists at Notre Dame in Paris

Airbnb has gained market share in France, the world's most visited tourist destination, despite a string of terrorist attacks that depressed summer bookings at traditional hotels.

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The San Francisco-based company's apartment-sharing website drew 3.6 million travellers to France in June, July and August, 86pc more than a year earlier, it said in a statement.

Travel across France fell this summer in the aftermath of deadly attacks that shook Paris and Nice, even as the European football championship drew hundreds of thousands of fans to games held throughout the country.

Budget travellers are flocking to digital platforms and bucking traditional travel patterns, which tend to dip following security threats. Terrorist attacks in Paris in November and the seaside resort of Nice in July claimed more than 200 lives.

Fears of renewed incidents have depressed hotel occupancy, which dropped to a summer low of 63.7pc in August, compared with 90pc a year earlier, according to data provider STR.

Hotel reservations in the area around Nice plunged as much as 30pc after the killings there, the French government said in July.

The world's biggest travel companies are scrambling to compete with new market entrants that appeal to young, web-focused consumers. France's largest hotel operator, Accor, has made it a priority to defend itself against digital competitors and said in April it's buying upscale Airbnb rival Onefinestay for €148m.

Airbnb gained market share even as strikes by civil servants and walkouts by airline and rail workers disrupted travel in the country. Traffic at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport slipped for a fourth consecutive month in August, the first time that has happened since the global financial crisis roiled travel markets in 2009.

Terrorism concerns are keeping away Chinese, Japanese and US tourists in particular, Air France-KLM Group said this week. Bookings from these nationals fell as much as 10pc in the first eight months of the year, the airline said.

After France, Airbnb served the highest number of guests in Italy and Spain this summer. The UK posted the biggest gain, with stays almost doubling after the referendum to leave the European Union depressed the value of the pound and made trips cheaper for foreigners, the company said.

Airbnb's overall guest arrivals to homes in Europe rose 74pc to 16 million, it said. (Bloomberg)

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