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Tourism: regions and cities need transparency rules and access to data in order to regulate short-term rentals  

​​Local leaders debated the opportunities and concerns about the tourism sector with other EU institutions and Airbnb's director for Europe ​​

Short-term accommodation rentals represent nearly one-third of the total EU supply of tourist accommodation, and this has been boosted by the rise of online platforms. During a debate promoted by the Commission for Natural Resources of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), local and regional leaders discussed the implications of a trend that, over the years, has created opportunities for travellers, SMEs and local economies, especially in rural areas, but has also raised concerns in big European cities facing excessive tourism flows and a growing demand for affordable housing.

Free access to data and increased transparency in order to give to every territory, from big cities to rural communities, the tools they need to find the right balance to regulate short-term rental online platforms like Airbnb. These are the key requests that European cities and regions addressed to the EU institutions, which are currently elaborating long-awaited new rules on short-term rentals.

Demands and concerns from local leaders were collected in a draft opinion that was adopted during the meeting. The rapporteur Roberto Ciambetti (IT/ECR), President of the Veneto Regional Council, underlined that " short-term rentals have emerged rapidly in recent times, offering opportunities for both hosts and travellers. This EU framework could help to promote a more balanced tourism ecosystem, and encourage travellers to turn to smaller towns and rural communities, which in turn would alleviate pressure on big cities."

A member of the European Parliament, Kim Van Sparrentak (NL/Greens), the Parliament's freshly appointed rapporteur on the new European regulation on short-term accommodation rentals, joined the debate. She explained that the aim of Parliament's work is that local administrations "can get a grip again on their cities" and that big short-term rental platforms should take into consideration the consequences of their activity for the local housing market.

Emmanuel Marill, Airbnb's Director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, highlighted that in Europe there are 1.3 million hosts renting their homes via the online platform, of which nearly 1 million have just one rental property. Mr Marill stated that Airbnb is very much in favour of more regulation on transparency and data-sharing, and that since the pandemic the company has registered a massive growth in the number of hosts in the countryside. However, he warned that – in his view - the positive gains for Europe in terms of tourism dispersal could be undermined by overly restrictive rules which exclude everyday hosts from the market.

The rationale that led to the proposal for a new EU regulation on data-sharing for short-term rentals was recalled by the representative of the European Commission, Amaryllis Verhoeven (DG GROW): the proposed rules address the issue of transparency through a legal governance framework, in order to make data-sharing both as easy as possible and as effective as possible. Better transparency leads to better policy-making, she said, and the new framework should work not only for big companies but also for the smallest one, as there are about 700 platforms active in the European short-term rental market.

Background:

Data shows that in 2022 the tourism sector recovered significantly from the effects of the pandemic. During the first nine months of last year, 450 million nights were spent in beds booked through one of the four major online collaborative economy platforms (Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group, Tripadvisor), an increase of 57.4% compared to 2021. Five regions had more than 4 million guest nights spent at short-stay accommodation: Andalucia in Spain (6.5 million), Jadranska Hrvatska in Croatia (5.5 million), Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in France (5.2 million), Catalonia in Spain (4.6 million) and Île de France (4.1 million).

In November 2022, the European Commission presented a long-awaited proposal for a regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services. The proposal, originally planned for the first semester of last year, was unveiled after a public consultation that collected a particularly high number of responses.

CoR members have already highlighted the concerns by local and regional authorities regarding short-term accommodation rentals in two opinions: one, on the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act by Rapporteur Rodi Kratsa (EL/EPP), was adopted in June 2021 ; the second – an opinion on Collaborative Economy by rapporteur Peter Florianschütz (AT/PES) – was adopted in December 2019.

The opinion "Short-term accommodation rental services: balancing the needs of local communities, entrepreneurs and travellers", drafted by Roberto Ciambetti, is scheduled for adoption during the CoR's plenary session in March 2023.

A recording of the debate is available here

Contact:
Matteo Miglietta
Tel. +32 (0) 470 89 53 82
matteo.miglietta@cor.europa.eu


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