Sex workers in Bruges are renting rooms through online platform Airbnb for work, in what local authorities say is the start of a rising trend to “keep an eye on” in the Flemish city.
“The phenomenon is on the rise,” Bruges Mayor Dirk De fauw said. “For the time being, it is rather on a small scale, but it is something to keep an eye on,” he added, according to HLN.
The mayor’s comments come after local authorities learned that a landlord in Zeebrugge who rented his property on Airbnb to two women for around a month was told by neighbours that they were sex workers.
The city council has not received any formal complaints from residents, Het Nieuwsblad reports, but landowners who notice or suspect their properties are being used for sex work are encouraged to report them.
Failing to do so could put them at risk of being prosecuted for pimping or organising prostitution, which, unlike private prostitution, is illegal in Belgium.
Some cities such as Brussels, Ostend or Ghent have red-light districts, and while enforcement varies throughout Belgium, brothels or unofficial sex-related services are sometimes tolerated.