Prague is seeking restrictions on Airbnb and other short-term letting platforms in the city to curb overtourism.

Old Town Square in Prague
Prague has proposed introducing restrictions on short-term letting platforms like Airbnb ©Adisa/Shutterstock

The hordes of tourists who visit the Czech capital every year are testament to the city's fabled attractions: its picturesque Old Town, its baroque and gothic architecture, the five-star meals and world-renowned (and reasonably-priced) beer. But like other cities struggling under the weight of overtourism, it's seeking to impose restrictions on Airbnb and other short-term letting platforms.

Speaking to the Observer, the city's mayor, Zdeněk Hřib, said under proposed restrictions, property owners are barred from renting out homes or apartments in their entirety, except when it's their own home and they're not present for the duration of the rental. Rentals would be limited to single rooms where the owner also lived. Hřib argued that failure to regulate short-term letting platforms had turned the city into a "distributed hotel".

Panorama of Prague with the Castle, Charles Bridge, Vltava river and red roofs of the old town, Czech Republic
Prague is one of the many European cities struggling with the issue of overtourism ©Xantana/Getty Images

Between 2016 and 2018, the number of visitors to the Czech capital increased by 840,000 to over nine million. At the same time, accommodation capacities in the city’s hotels and hostels only increased by around 1.4%. Short-term letting platforms stepped in to fill the gap, namely Airbnb, which increased its capacity by 34%, according to a 2019 hospitality study from Deloitte.

At the moment, every fourth apartment in Prague’s historical district of Staré město is rented via Airbnb or some other shared accommodation platform, a trend that is driving up rents, pushing long-term residents out of the neighbourhood and transforming it into a tourist-only zone.

A steep stairway in the streets of the old town in Prague.
There are fears that short-term letting platforms are driving long-term residents out of the city centre ©Ihor Pasternak/Shutterstock

Data from Inside Airbnb, which tracks the platform's lettings all over the world, reports there are 13,951 listings in Prague. Of that, 73.9% are entire homes/apartments (or 10,637) and 20% (2723) are private rooms and 1.7% (231) are shared rooms. Prague also has an above-average share of hosts offering two or more properties.

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