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Study: Airbnb’s P.R. operation took a year to bounce back after Hurricane María

The establishment and proliferation of the Airbnb plaform in Puerto Rico has been in the spotlight lately, as part of the debate about public tourism policy.

Research by Estudios Técnicos Inc., a local economic analysis firm, shows that it took the service about a year to bounce back after last year’s double-whammy by Hurricanes Irma and María.

The firm released graphics showing that the service experienced negative growth for four consecutive months after the storms, from November to February 2018, only to resume in March, but very modestly.

Estudios Técnicos gathered information from AirDNA, a firm dedicated to analyzing short-term vacation data, that showed that the number of advertised AirBnb properties in Puerto Rico has increased from some 1,500 in 2014 to around 8,000 in 2018, even though the number of properties dedicated to Airbnb adds up to more than 12,000.

Although the number of Airbnb properties available is slightly lower than the number of hotel rooms endorsed by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, “the evidence indicates that the number of hotel rooms available is still much higher than those of Airbnb.”

Puerto Rico has about 13,000 hotel rooms available, when all of the available properties are online. Post-María, there are still a number of major properties still closed, namely the Ritz-Carlton in Isla Verde, the St. Regis Bahía Beach in Río Grande, the W Hotel in Vieques and the Caribe Hilton.

According to the data available, the total number of Airbnb properties announced on a monthly basis had shown consistent growth since the service’s arrival, but came to a halt in August 2017, just prior to when Hurricanes Irma and María slammed into Puerto Rico and — on a lesser scale — on the imposition of a room tax on those properties that month.

Growth did not resume until February 2018, Estudios Técnicos confirmed.

Given the closure of several hotels due to Hurricane María, the proportion changed for a period, but the trend will continue to show hotel rooms outpacing Airbnb. Furthermore, the firm showed that Puerto Rico hotels generated more than 4.5 million hotel room nights in 2017, versus about 1.9 million in Airbnb reservations.

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