Published: 15:56, 22 April 2021
| Updated: 17:44, 22 April 2021
Second home owners in Kent have been urged to rent their properties on Airbnb in preparation for a tourism stampede - with figures showing 17,000 sit empty across the county.
Places across the UK are reporting record numbers of bookings as Covid-19 restrictions ease and uncertainty remains concerning international travel.
The bosses of property management firm Houst have identified Kent as an area expecting one of the largest growths in tourism as staycationers rush to book British beach holidays this year.
But they say the county is facing a shortage of hotels and traditional accommodation.
Data from Kent County Council released last year reveals there are 17,275 empty properties and 8,755 second homes across Kent.
Houst have urged second home owners to "put their properties to use" to support the influx of visitors by renting their properties to staycationers.
Co-founder of the firm, Tom Jones, said: "Making these properties available to rent on a short-to-medium term basis will allow tourists to discover new parts of Kent, showcasing the best of the county and bringing fresh spending power to local high-streets and businesses this summer."
The company will be expanding its "Airbnb management service" into Kent to support the expected staycation surge this summer.
They are hoping to bring "spenders" to Kent’s towns and villages where otherwise properties would be sitting empty.
Canterbury-based entrepreneur James Catto will be taking charge of the business’ operations in the county.
"Travel has shifted from densely populated cities to quieter, more rural locations," he said.
"In many of these locations, and in Kent specifically, there’s a shortage of hotels and traditional accommodation which is affecting how quickly the local economy can rebound from Covid-19.
"With hotels set to remain closed until at least May 17 short-term lets are the only way to help fill that gap and support local tourism."
Airbnb hosts were accused of trying to earn a quick buck by ignoring lockdown rules after a KentOnline investigation this year revealed they are renting rooms out for illegal breaks.
Here are some of the places you can have a staycation in Kent this summer.