ATHENS: At the foot of the Acropolis hill, in the touristic Koukaki district, the coronavirus lockdown has silenced the sound of Airbnb customers’ wheeled luggage.
The tourist industry in Athens, as in many other European capitals, has ground to a halt, with planes grounded and restaurants, museums and archaeological monuments all closed.
This has left a huge hole in the Greek economy which had been recovering from a decade of crisis.
Owners of small apartments in Koukaki, who had been renting them on the Airbnb platform in order to provide income during the financial crisis, are once again struggling.
“The reservations stopped abruptly,” laments Romina Tsitou, an Airbnb host since 2014.
“I hope I won’t have to put them for long-term rental, but I may have to if this situation drags on,” she adds. For the time being her two Airbnb apartments accommodate medical staff.
Stefania Dimitroula has already put her apartment up for long-term rental.
“Since the beginning of the summer of 2018, it was fully booked via Airbnb, almost exclusively by foreign tourists,” the 32-year-old woman said, but “100 percent of the reservations for April, May and June have been cancelled”.
Being unemployed, she had no other choice.
“I was counting on the earnings of this apartment, around 1,000 euros per month, to compensate for the loss of my job,” she explained, expressing pessimism about the summer season, which the Greek government is hoping to jumpstart on July 1.