Airbnb 'disappointed' by Amsterdam plan to cut rentals

Tourists pose for photos outside the Rijksmuseum in central Amsterdam. PHOTO: REUTERS

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Rent-a-room giant Airbnb has voiced disappointment in Amsterdam's plans to impose a 30-day limit on letting private homes, saying it will harm the local economy.

"We have built a responsible home sharing community on Airbnb benefiting the city and its inhabitants," the company said in a letter sent to Amsterdam council, and shared with AFP on Thursday (Jan 11).

The 19,000 Airbnb hosts in the Dutch capital were "disappointed by your announcement... to favour big hotels over local families who occasionally share their homes," wrote Bo de Koning, Airbnb's public policy manager, for the Netherlands.

He maintained that "while Airbnb guests account for just 4 per cent of visitors to Amsterdam, they have boosted the Amsterdam economy by an estimated €500 million in 2016."

The Dutch capital had also collected some €11 million (S$17 million) in tourist taxes in 2015 and 2016, thanks to the site, Koning said.

The city council's executive said Wednesday that the current annual 60-day limit for private home rentals will now be halved from 2019 "to stem the negative influence of holiday home rentals".

"During the last few years there has been massive growth in the market of renting out homes to tourists," it said, adding that had had an unwanted "effect on various Amsterdam neighbourhoods."

The Dutch capital now attracts some 17 million tourists a year - the same number as the whole of the Dutch population. And residents have increasingly complained about rowdy crowds and late night disturbances.

Airbnb said legal experts have challenged whether the city's new ruling is tenable, and insisted the company had worked with the council to address its concerns.

Seven out of 10 people booking accommodation through the site stayed outside of the city centre, it said.

"Further restricting the rights of regular people to share their homes could take 43 million euros out of the local economy and drive more guests into crowded tourist hotspots," Airbnb said.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.