In France, Airbnb lures travellers while hotels lose on terror fears

By Richard Weiss

An underwater room installed by the Airbnb accommodation in the Aquarium of Paris. Photo / Getty Images
An underwater room installed by the Airbnb accommodation in the Aquarium of Paris. Photo / Getty Images

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

The San Francisco-based company's apartment-sharing website drew 3.6 million travellers to France in June, July and August, 86 per cent more than in the same period a year ago, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Travel across France fell this summer in the aftermath of deadly strikes that shook Paris and Nice, even as the European soccer 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 attacks have depressed hotel occupancy, which dropped to a summer low of 63.7 per cent in August, compared with 90 per cent a year earlier, according to data provider STR.

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

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.

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 74 per cent to 16 million, it said.

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