EU travel tech companies want fair legislation on short-term rentals

EU travel tech companies want fair legislation on short-term rentals

Registration schemes and clear legislation are some of the key recommendations of travel tech companies to the EU executive.

1. Short-term rentals

EU travel tech companies are calling on the European Commission to consider registration schemes, data sharing and a clear definition for short-term rentals (STR) on its upcoming legislation.

Now is the moment for a harmonised framework to offer stakeholders an opportunity to collaborate and jointly design solutions for issues affecting local communities, public authorities, STR providers and booking accommodation platforms.

eu travel tech

Accounting for over 29% of the tourist accommodation sector across the 27 EU countries, STR is considered key for the recovery and economic development of the tourism ecosystem in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK together accounted for 72% of total STR gross bookings, according to eu travel tech. In the same year, more than 554 million nights were spent in the EU in accommodation booked via the four largest online travel platforms.

2. Regulating STRs

Overall, eu travel tech welcomes the Commission’s initiative in revising the regulation of short-term rental services across the EU. STR’s current regulatory landscape is characterised by a lack of clarity regarding the applicable rules for STR providers. On top of this hurdle, fragmentation across, and even within, EU countries has become burdensome. Some EU countries have tried to regulate this new sector through a series of different requirements, such as night caps, registration and authorisation schemes, zoning and licensing requirements.

Featuring Booking.com, Skyscanner and Tripadvisor as members, eu travel tech said in a recent statement that it has long advocated for a “harmonized framework introducing clear and proportionate rules on the provision and marketing of STR services.

The growth of STR heavily relies on online platforms and their freedom to provide services across the EU. “In our view, such challenges require a regulatory framework that clarifies and carefully balances roles and responsibilities of the different actors involved […] and that aims at standardizing data sharing approaches across Europe, among others,” eu travel tech noted.

Online platforms, property owners and public authorities are key players behind STR services. Online platforms, in particular, have been at the center of the debate regarding the challenges posed by the rapid spread of SRTs, under the E-commerce directive and the Digital Services Act.

3. Data sharing

Eu travel tech defends that the application of registration obligations could help improve data sharing. Since much of the data sought by public authorities is linked to the STR providers, they should source it directly from the hosts. Moreover, STR registration schemes support data exchange and a more regulated environment.

The tech group maintains that registration obligations for STR providers are an important part of the solution, enabling authorities to have an overview over STR activities. This plea from the industry follows a Commission’s intervention to explore legislative measures seeking to improve the framework for short-term accommodation rental services. In September 2021, the EU executive published an impact assessment on tourism services, namely on STRs. The Commission is expected to deliver a proposal by the end of the year. While the Commission is still considering non-legislative options in its roadmap, it has noted that guidelines have not been effective so far and a regulation would help address the issue of fragmentation.

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