Espace populations sociétés (Jan 2021)

What can we learn from Airbnb data on tourist flows? A case study on Iceland

  • Alexandre Cebeillac,
  • Yvette Vaguet

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2020


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Tourist flows are increasingly important – at least up to the covid-19 crisis - and the Arctic regions are no exception. In particular, Iceland is experiencing an unprecedented tourism boom that began a decade ago. This goes hand in hand with the development of online short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb. This article questions how public information on the Airbnb website can be used to study tourist flows, with Iceland as a case study. Using a program we developed, we collected information about the accommodation available on the platform, as well as any comments left by visitors.Each member’s profile also includes the place of residence declared by the user, which makes it possible to know the country of origin. We then compared this collected information with official statistical data. Airbnb, which is growing steadily, seems to be gaining ground on the classic hotel business. The Airbnb data reflects the officially recorded flows by country of origin. This makes the case for using this data for the Arctic region, for which statistical data is hard to find at a fine-scale.