Delivering sustainable solutions for Barcelona An open letter to the Barcelona City Hall

Unlike other major cities across the world, Barcelona has no rules for local families who share their homes. While cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Milan have introduced progressive rules that help local residents benefit from visitors to their communities, Barcelona has walked away from discussions on rules that would help middle class families use their homes to boost their income and support their families.

This ongoing situation not only denies Barcelona new social and economic opportunities, it leave tax euros on the table and fails to deliver the efficient and effective solutions local families deserve.

Tomorrow, Airbnb and Barcelona City Hall will meet to discuss a new way forward. We hope this will mark the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship that prioritises delivering new opportunities for local families, generates new tax revenues for Barcelona, and that delivers the efficient and effective solutions that local families deserve.

This ongoing situation  denies Barcelona new social and economic opportunities

New economic opportunities for Barcelona

Local families earned €167 million by sharing their homes with guests on Airbnb in Barcelona last year. The typical host earned €5,500 by sharing their space for 70 nights last year. More than two thirds of hosts say they share their primary residence and almost a quarter say that sharing their home help them avoid eviction or foreclosure. Hosts have typically lived in their hometown for 23 years and many say that home sharing is an economic lifeline that helps them afford to stay in Barcelona.

Visitors to Barcelona using Airbnb spent €860 million in local businesses last year, spreading benefits beyond traditional tourist hotspots to the communities local families call home. Across the world, we know that more than half of all guest spending takes place in the communities where guests stay and in Barcelona, we know the majority of hosts, guests and booked listings are found outside Ciutat Vella.

New tax revenues for Barcelona

Hosts using Airbnb want to pay their fair share of tax, and we want to help. In Barcelona, however, outdated rules mean tourist and hotel tax revenue from hosts is not accepted. Last year, this resulted in €6 million of tourist tax revenue being left on the table – money which could be a vital economic boost for Barcelona.

We want to fix this situation. Across the world, Airbnb has collected and remitted more than $300 million in tourist, hotel and occupancy taxes on behalf of hosts in more than 310 communities across the world. We want to do the same in Barcelona.

Delivering sustainable solutions

As well as leaving vital tax euros on the table and denying local families new economic opportunities, Barcelona’s approach to home sharing is hitting the public purse.

Earlier this year, Airbnb introduced a ‘One Host, One Home’ policy in Ciutat Vella and in the last two weeks, We have removed more than 1,300 listings that could affect long-term housing availability. This policy automatically and effectively targets potential bad actors, while protecting local families who share their homes. It also comes at zero cost to local taxpayers.

Meanwhile, City Hall says it plans to spend more than €4 million of vital public funds on a campaign of fear and confusion against local families who share their homes. So far, this spiraling budget and non-targeted enforcement plan has proved less than half as effective as the free solution Airbnb has already put in place.

As both parties prepare to meet tomorrow, we hope that many will agree to striving for these three priorities. By working together, we can help deliver the opportunities and solutions that everyone in this great city deserves.

Sergio Vinay

Public Policy, Airbnb