In an attempt to ensure fair play and boost competition, the European Commission presented a set of proposed rules on Monday that will regulate short-term tourist rentals and help authorities ensure balanced tourism development.
Among others, the recommendations require online platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com to automatically share data once a month with public authorities about the number of rented nights and of guests.
At the same time, EU states will be required to monitor the implementation of the rules and put in place penalties for non-compliance.
“The new proposed rules will help to improve transparency on the identification and activity of short-term accommodation hosts and on the rules they have to comply with, and will facilitate the registration of hosts. They will also tackle the current fragmentation in how online platforms share data and, ultimately, help prevent illegal listings. Overall, this will contribute to a more sustainable tourism ecosystem and support its digital transition,” said the Commission.
It went on to acknowledge that short-term rentals bring benefits to hosts and tourists, adding however that “they can create concerns for certain local communities”.
Last month, Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias said official letters would be sent to tourist accommodation rental platforms such as Booking.com and Expedia requesting that they adjust their advertising policy concerning hotels and Airbnb-style rentals. The move came after repeated calls by Greek tourism and hospitality associations on the government to tackle illegal operations.
European Commission’s proposed framework
The Commission’s new proposed framework will:
– harmonize registration requirements for hosts and their short-term rental properties when introduced by national authorities
– clarify rules to ensure registration numbers are displayed and checked
– streamline data sharing between online platforms and public authorities
– allow the reuse of data in aggregate form for the use of tourism statistics produced by Eurostat aimed at supporting the development of innovative, tourism-related services
– member states will monitor the implementation of this transparency framework and put in place the relevant penalties for non-compliance with the obligations of this regulation.
HOTREC, representing Europe’s hospitality providers, welcomed the proposal as an important step and opportunity to level the playing field amongst all accommodation providers.
According to Commission data, overall, in the first half of the year, Airbnb-style rental bookings increased by 138 percent over the same period in 2021 and accounted for 200 million over nights stays in the EU.
Short-term rentals represent approximately one-fourth of the total supply of tourist accommodation in the EU with figures increasing significantly across Europe.
Earlier this month, the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), submitted its own proposals aimed at regulating short-term rental activity in Greece, and ensuring quality and fair play in hospitality as well as addressing the thorny issue of dwindling long-term rental availability. In Athens, the boom of short-term tourist rentals and the conversion of entire buildings into Airbnb-style hotels has led to skyrocketing rents for long-term rentals or lack of affordable housing. The same applies to popular destinations such as Santorini and Chania on Crete.
Last month, Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis agreed on the urgent need to formulate a regulatory framework for short-term rentals, adding that as is the case in the rest of Europe, in Greece too municipal authorities should be responsible for setting limits on short-term rental activity depending on each area’s needs and carrying capacity.
Following today’s announcement, the short-term rentals proposal will be discussed and then adopted by the European Parliament and Council. After entering into force, EU states will have a two-year period to establish the necessary mechanisms for data exchange.