Platform data in residential tourism

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Platform data in residential tourism 2022

Platform data in residential tourism 2022

Using an online platform to book holidays, or to rent holiday accommodation, has become increasingly popular over the past decade. Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, is therefore compiling an experimental statistic on the use of online platforms for private holiday accommodation.

For this, Statbel uses the data it receives via Eurostat from four large platform companies. These four platforms, Airbnb,, the Expedia Group and TripAdvisor, provide pseudonymised and aggregated data about all reservations and overnight stays that take place via their platforms on the Belgian territory.

This experimental statistic is limited to the accommodations that are offered by private individuals. Professional accommodation providers, like hotels, are excluded: these figures are available in the official tourism statistics. More information about this experimental statistic and the data used is available in the tab ‘documents’.

In 2022, online platforms accounted for 8,624,000 overnight stays in private accommodations

The latest figures show that the rental of accommodations offered by private individuals via an online platform is well established. In 2022, 856,000 accommodations were booked via an online platform, with travellers spending a total of 8,624,000 nights. This is an increase of 32% compared to 2021 and the highest number of stays and overnight stays in accommodations offered by individuals since the launch of this experimental statistic in 2018.

Nearly half of overnight stays took place in the Flemish Region

The Flemish Region registers the largest number of overnight stays in accommodations offered by private individuals and booked via an online platform. In 2022, 48.5% of all overnight stays took place in the Flemish Region, 32.2% in the Walloon Region and finally 19.3% in the Brussels-Capital Region. Compared to 2021, the Brussels-Capital Region in particular sees a strong increase in overnight stays (+87.0%). Nevertheless, the capital remains the only region where the number of overnight stays in 2022 remains below the 2019 level. So the Brussels-Capital Region counted 444,000 fewer overnight stays compared to 2019 (-21.0%).

Brussels-Capital remains the most popular district

At district level, Brussels-Capital remains the district with the largest number of overnight stays booked with a private individual via an online platform. Throughout the whole calendar year 2022, 1,666,000 overnight stays took place in the capital. The districts Ostend (757,000 overnight stays) and Bruges (704,000 overnight stays) complete the top 3. In Wallonia, Verviers was the most popular district with 567,000 overnight stays and occupies the fifth national place.

Foreigners find their way back to Belgium

In 2022, 67.5% of overnight stays were booked by foreign tourists. This is a sharp increase compared to 2021, when, due to travel restrictions linked to the coronavirus crisis, a majority of overnight stays (56.8%) were booked by Belgians. Nevertheless, the share of travellers from abroad is still below the 2019 figure, which was 76.8%.

If we look at the travellers' country of origin, we find that in 2022, with 24.1%, the Dutch formed the largest group of foreign tourists who booked accommodation with a private individual via an online platform. The French (19.0%) and the German (17.2%) complete the top 3. Those three countries together account for 60% of overnight stays in accommodations offered by private individuals.


In recent years, various apps have come into use that bring people into contact with each other to exchange goods and services. More and more consumers use an online platform to book a holiday home or have a meal delivered to their home by a bicycle courier. As a result, the economic importance of the sharing economy is growing rapidly.

That is why Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, in close cooperation with Eurostat and other national statistical institutes, is studying how the sharing economy can be integrated into public statistics. However, national statistical institutes face a considerable difficulty when analysing the platform companies. The largest platform companies are multinational players, often managing their activities in Belgium from a foreign head office. These companies are therefore rarely found in the regular business statistics or registers. In order to obtain the required data, national statistical institutes would therefore be obliged to contact all platform companies on a unilateral basis. This was a time-consuming and inefficient process for both the platform companies and the statistical institutes. Therefore, the European Commission decided to take these discussions into its own hands and request the data for all EU Member States via one agreement. These negotiations initially focused on the residential tourism sector and resulted in agreements with the platform companies Airbnb,, TripAdvisor and Expedia . In the meantime, these companies have delivered the first data files to Eurostat. Eurostat then divides the microdata into 27 national pseudonymised and aggregated files, so that Statbel receives information on all reservations and overnight stays booked via these four online platforms on the Belgian territory.

With the agreements between the European Commission and the four platform companies, a first, important hurdle has been taken. But the methodological work is only just beginning. Based on the first files, the national statistical institutes and Eurostat still have to develop a harmonised approach to the methodological challenges. In particular, due to the lack of identification data in the microdata of the platform companies, double counting poses a considerable problem. This double counting, whereby an accommodation is contained in at least two different files, is a particular challenge for capacity determination. That is why this information is not included in the experimental statistics.

At the moment the national statistical institutes together with Eurostat are studying which techniques can best be used to solve the methodological problems. Innovative methods such as web scraping are particularly under consideration. Web scraping involves scraping relevant information from websites, which in combination with artificial intelligence is considered the best solution. Concretely, we study the following two approaches:

  • text recognition: individuals who offer the same room on several online platforms usually use the same text. By looking for key words, such as the location of the accommodation, the size of the room, available facilities, etc., identical accommodations can be found automatically;
  • Photo recognition: this technique automatically compares the photos that are placed with an advertisement in order to identify possible duplicates. However, this technique requires a large computer memory and is therefore rather kept in reserve as an alternative solution.

In time, the intention is to integrate the platform data into recurring statistics. The timing for this depends both on achieving a harmonised approach to the methodological problems and on faster data delivery by the platform companies.