Lots of European cities are dealing with overtourism. Here's how smart city initiatives can help improve quality of life for visitors and residents alike.

Many European cities are currently finding themselves in a difficult position: their tourism campaigns have been so successful that they’re actually receiving too much tourism. This is known as overtourism, and is having serious consequences for local governments in popular cities.

It’s hard to stop the flow of tourists. But that’s not the only issue. The heavy presence of tourism reduces quality of life for locals. Too much tourism brings with it lots of social problems.

However, with the right tools, local administrations can work with smart city initiatives to better manage tourism and reduce the impact tourists have on local life. Let's take a look at one issue in particular: rising rent prices. 

Skyrocketing rent

One major problem many residents of European cities like Venice, Amsterdam, Paris, and more face is skyrocketing rental prices. This is often made even worse by illegal tourist apartment rentals.

People without licenses from the city rent out apartments to visitors. These apartments are often hard to find, as they may be listed on multiple websites, or use a real license number for a different property.

The property owners can charge visitors much higher prices than they can charge locals. That pushes rent prices up, and also means that popular neighborhoods are filling up with these illegal rentals rather than housing for residents.

Let’s take an in-depth look at one city where this issue is particularly difficult to deal with: Barcelona.

barcelona-rental-prices-smart-city-initiatives The rise of rent prices in Barcelona province over the last year.

The situation in Barcelona

In Barcelona, the city employs a team of over 50 inspectors, as well as a website where residents can report illegal tourist apartments in their buildings. However, the website got over 6,000 reports in a single day - far more than their 50 inspectors can handle.

There are also instances of residents who make false reports about their neighbors because of personal conflicts.

When their team carries out inspections, they must physically find the illegal occupants in the apartment.

On top of that, people in the apartment - whether they are legal occupants are not - are under no obligation to open the door to inspectors. Some of these illegal apartments even have warnings posted to not open the door to any strangers.

Case study: the AirBnb incident in Barcelona

AirBnb been fined multiple times in Barcelona for having unlicensed rentals listed on the site. But this hasn’t stopped the problem, as a recent incident shows.

A woman named Montse Pérez rented out her apartment to a new tenant. Shortly afterwards, Pérez found out that the tenant was illegally listing the apartment on AirBnb. He’d rented the apartment from her for €950 a month, but was charging between €200-250 per night- potentially €7,500 per month.

However, when Pérez contacted AirBnb about the problem, they offered to simply mediate the situation between her and the tenant. When she contacted a lawyer, she discovered it would take over a year to expel the tenant using legal means.

She was eventually forced to rent her own apartment on AirBnb and change the locks that night.

AirBnb’s response? “We ask all hosts to certify they have permission to list their space and remind them to check and follow local rules before they list.”


What now? Smart city initiatives

This problem isn’t something that just happens in Barcelona. This is happening in popular tourist destinations all over Europe. Local governments are finding that using conventional methods are coming up short to tackle this tricky issue.

This is where smart city initiatives come in.

Using cutting-edge technology, cities have a valuable resource at the fingertips to help fight illegal tourist apartment rentals quickly and efficiently.

A new way: Bismart’s Illegal Tourist Apartment Rental Detection

Here at Bismart, we’ve developed a brand-new smart solution designed specifically to tackle this situation: Illegal Tourist Apartment Rental Detection.

This tool aggregates data from multiple sources, meaning that no matter where an illegal rental is listed, you’ll be able to identify and locate it. This user-friendly platform cuts through the time wasted on lengthy manual inspections and gives you the information you need directly.

For a limited time, we’re offering a free trial of Illegal Tourist Apartment Rental Detection with your own data. Click here to sign up for your trial! Spaces are limited, so sign up soon.

Together and with smart technology, we can reduce illegal tourist apartment rentals and increase quality of life for both residents and visitors alike.

Are you interested in learning  about our solutions for Smart Cities? Find out more

Posted by Maria Gorini