The sharing economy and tourism: Tourist accommodation

25-09-2015

Tourism services have traditionally been provided by businesses such as hotels, taxis or tour operators. Recently, a growing number of individuals are proposing to share temporarily with tourists what they own (for example their house or car) or what they do (for example meals or excursions). This type of sharing is referred to as the 'sharing economy'. It is not limited to tourism and can be found in many areas of social and economic activity, although tourism has been one of the sectors most impacted. Sharing goods and services between individuals is nothing new in itself. However, the development of the internet and, as a consequence, the creation of online platforms has made sharing easier than ever. In the past decade, many companies managing such platforms have emerged on the market. A well-known example of a platform is one on which people can book accommodation (Airbnb). The sharing economy has had a positive impact on tourism as well as a negative one. Its advocates think that it provides easy access to a wide range of services that are often of higher quality and more affordable than those provided by traditional business counterparts. Critics, on the other hand, claim that the sharing economy provides unfair competition, reduces job security, avoids taxes and poses a threat to safety, health and disability compliance standards. The response to the sharing economy remains fragmented in the EU. Some activities have been regulated at local level. Neither the European Commission nor the Parliament have taken an official position so far, though a recent report from the Transport and Tourism Committee touches upon the issue. The Commission has announced that it plans to assess the role of platforms in order to see if any changes or new legislation is needed.

Tourism services have traditionally been provided by businesses such as hotels, taxis or tour operators. Recently, a growing number of individuals are proposing to share temporarily with tourists what they own (for example their house or car) or what they do (for example meals or excursions). This type of sharing is referred to as the 'sharing economy'. It is not limited to tourism and can be found in many areas of social and economic activity, although tourism has been one of the sectors most impacted. Sharing goods and services between individuals is nothing new in itself. However, the development of the internet and, as a consequence, the creation of online platforms has made sharing easier than ever. In the past decade, many companies managing such platforms have emerged on the market. A well-known example of a platform is one on which people can book accommodation (Airbnb). The sharing economy has had a positive impact on tourism as well as a negative one. Its advocates think that it provides easy access to a wide range of services that are often of higher quality and more affordable than those provided by traditional business counterparts. Critics, on the other hand, claim that the sharing economy provides unfair competition, reduces job security, avoids taxes and poses a threat to safety, health and disability compliance standards. The response to the sharing economy remains fragmented in the EU. Some activities have been regulated at local level. Neither the European Commission nor the Parliament have taken an official position so far, though a recent report from the Transport and Tourism Committee touches upon the issue. The Commission has announced that it plans to assess the role of platforms in order to see if any changes or new legislation is needed.