The AirBnB Invasion of Barcelona

AirBnB removes a lot of friction in the market. In the past, as a destination became more popular, the growth in tourism was mediated by the pace of approval and construction of new hotel rooms. Now we can activate existing housing stock when demand for tourism increases to keep prices low and space available.

I’m not convinced this is all bad. Cheaper travel is great because more people will do it. Traveling to new places and being exposed to different cultures, people, and geography are both key to building empathy and connectedness. Plus local economies benefit from the influx of money.

On the other hand, inexpensive and increased travel, along with the ease of communication facilitated by the internet, has really caused an urban sameness to settle across the globe. It is definitely true that places are losing their distinctiveness as we descend into a global elite monoculture.

And a final thought about the so-called AirBnB “problem”— every city is different. A small city that has little excess housing capacity and massive tourism has different dynamics compared to a city with declining populations and huge excesses in housing capacity.