Antwerp hotel industry demands stricter rules and enforcement for Airbnb as business tourism is not recovering

The number of accommodations rented through Airbnb has increased in Antwerp from 1,494 in 2017 to 1,942 nowadays, Gazet van Antwerpen reports. Horeca Antwerpen, the union for Antwerp hotels, restaurants, cafés and bars, is not amused and demands the government(s) take stricter action. 

Airbnb is a thorn in the eye for conventional hotels. It “disrupts the market” of short-term accommodation but also, landlords prefer the high profits of short-term renting out over long-term renting for genuine housing purposes, making rent prices for common citizens skyrocket. 

In 2022, 33,456 rooms, apartments or houses were offered for short stays in Belgium. A 20% increase compared to 2021.

Other cities

Other cities in Belgium and abroad do take (more) action against the well-known platform for room and accommodation rental. In Brussels, a special control cell takes such under the rader accommodation offline since 2020. In Ghent, the city government will levy a higher tourist tax on Airbnb stays. 

In Antwerp, Alderman for Tourism Koen Kennis (N-VA) sticks to the existing control system. And this frustrates Horeca Antwerpen.

Changing profile

Airbnb started out as a platform where private individuals rented out a room in their own home to earn some extra money. It gradually evolved to renting out complete homes and the actual residents staying away while the tourists stay and nowadays many rooms, flats and houses advertised on Airbnb are part of a very corporate investment scheme. 

When complete building and complexes are being bought by an investor and rented out via Airbnb and / or Booking – and thus being de facto a hotel – it can disrupt a neighbourhood. It’s also illegal. 

Antwerp overtakes Brussels

Antwerp has now overtaken Brussels regarding the number of ‘B&Bs’ offered online. Toerisme Vlaanderen (Tourism Flanders) does check the accommodation for complying to safety rules.

For Alderman Kennis, this is enough. He insists the City of Antwerp checks if landlords are registered as such and pay taxes on their occupation. If the city detects ‘fake hotels’, it will pass on the information to the Flemish Government

4-star rating.


Horeca Antwerpen claims the City has not issued any fine. “The city does collect taxes – that is extra income – but it should not stop there”, says spokesperson Davy Brocatus.

According to him, there are over 500 Airbnb rooms in the Antwerp Old Town alone. “Enough to fill a hotel”, ruing the “unfair competition”. 

The Antwerp Hotel Association is equally frustrated. Chairman Didier Boehlen, recognizes there are landlords using Airbnb who follow he rules and provide a honest product. But others clearly don’t.

Business and conference tourism

Perhaps the irritation wouldn’t be so present if business tourism had returned to pre-COVID-19 numbers. Occupancy during weekdays is bad, with 47% in January, 55% in February and 61% in March.

The Antwerp Hotel Association says Antwerp must now focus on conference tourism. Individual business is now more often conducted via online tools. But conferences still have appeal.

Plus, the AHA insists Antwerp must attract tourists from beyond the neighbouring countries and convince leisure travellers to stay during weekdays. 

Hotel room numbers

According to a 2022 Hotel Management article on a Ginder study on the accommodation market in Antwerp, Antwerp had 8,000 accommodation units. “More than 80% of these units can be found at the hotels and hostels. Other types of accommodation such as B&B and holiday homes are also part of these 8,000 units, these markets have been developing strongly for several years.” 

“Most hotels are classified with three or four stars (superior). At the end of 2021, however, two concepts with five-star quality will also be opened. In recent years, successful steps have been taken towards an increasing diversity of supply. The number of rooms at hotels and hostels grew particularly fast between 2019 and 2021 (+15%). Given the number of (conditionally) licensed plans, it is expected that the accommodation offer will continue to grow in the coming years.”

On tourism

4 Comments Add yours

  1. elvira797mx says:

    Thank’s for share Timothy.
    Have a nice weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Timothy says:

      You’re welcome, Elvira. You too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. elvira797mx says:

        Thank’s Timothy.
        You as well

        Liked by 1 person

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