The city of Florence, Italy, known for its picturesque canals and architecture, has banned Airbnb and other short-term rentals in its historic center.
This area includes landmarks like the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza della Signoria.
The city made this decision in an attempt to ensure that the locals can get affordable housing.
Florence Is Affected by Overtourism
Florence is currently facing the issue of overtourism. The city’s center attracts millions of visitors each year, leading to overcrowding and other negative impacts on the local community.
Overtourism is negatively affecting the quality of life for Florence’s residents. For example, it led to higher prices for housing and other goods and services.
Florence authorities are well-aware of these challenges, and they are coming up with practical solutions to overcome them.
Some of these solutions include banning short-term rentals, limiting pedestrian traffic , and imposing a tax on tourist buses and an entrance tax on day tourists. The city is also trying to improve public transportation and promote tourism to less popular parts of the city.
The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, describes this as “ an emergency situation of total deregulation.”
“We are witnessing a progressive growth in the influx of tourists which has become even more pronounced since the pandemic,” he said to CNN.
How Will Banning Short-term Rentals Help?
When asked about this, Nardella explained “ We are putting a simple ban in the UNESCO area to meet our responsibilities of protecting the cultural and material identity of the centro storico, and to dampen the effect of rent increases across the entire city – which are directly linked to the boom of short-term tourist rentals.”
So, banning short-term rentals can, in fact, help reduce overtourism by reducing the number of tourists in the city center, which leads to increasing the availability of affordable housing for residents.
The decision made people happy. However, some don’t think the ban goes far enough.
Veronica Grechi, who owns a B&B on the edge of Florence’s city center, said “What the mayor has done is great, but without inspections, it’s not enough.”
Grechi says much of the short-term rental area is “non-professional and wild west.” Many owners rent places without telling the authorities.
Grechi says if authorities checked properties and money, Airbnb numbers would drop and they wouldn’t have to ban them. She says “Everyone does it [short-term rentals] now because it’s easy – it costs nothing. If you make people do it professionally, the numbers would go down immediately, because it wouldn’t be worth them doing it.”
Similarly, Lorenzo Masi, a councilor with the populist Five Star political movement, noted “ What will happen to those who aren’t renting [property] in an entrepreneurial way?”
As an example, he points to people renting a room in their own home. For many, this helps offset costs.
Masi said “We would need plans that include these kinds of situations. We shouldn’t compare the most disadvantaged groups with those working purely on a business level.”
An Airbnb spokesperson told CNN: “We recognize the challenges facing historical cities across Italy and we want to help.”
Airbnb has suggested national rules for Italy. These would be clear and simple for short-term rentals to follow. They would make sure home-sharing is responsible in all cities and towns.