Increasing calls for businesses like Airbnb to be better regulated

With expansion into events, sharing economy businesses should be regulated in same way as rest of travel industry, says UKinbound.

More and more businesses are calling for increased regulation in the travel industry, a new survey has found.

In a Business Barometer survey of its members, travel trade association UKinbound found more than half of respondents said travel businesses in the sharing economy should be subject to greater regulation and more specifically, the same regulations as other UK tourism providers.

More than 71% said further regulation would provide more protection for customers and create a level playing field for all UK businesses that operate in the tourism sector.

Joss Croft, CEO, UKinbound said: "We will always welcome those innovations in the tourism industry that provide our visitors with greater choice. The majority of sharing economy businesses have brought to market some fantastic new products and present an exciting new way to travel, but it’s only fair that all businesses in the UK tourism industry – including those in the sharing economy –  are regulated appropriately so that customers rights and more importantly their safety are protected."

Croft said that LA, Amsterdam, Paris, have all adapted to the changing ways consumers are purchasing travel and the UK needs to do the same, adding: "The global tourism industry is very competitive and we need to continue giving international visitors a reason to choose the UK over other destinations.

"If our industry doesn’t operate on a level playing field, we can’t guarantee quality, which will jeopardise the UK’s global reputation as a world-class tourism destination. 

The new research follows calls from the Tourism Alliance officials, who wrote to the new minister for arts, heritage and tourism, Rebecca Pow MP, to ask the government to make sure services remain safe and legal.

Jointly signed by nine UK tourism associations and businesses including UKinbound, the letter urged Pow to take forward the recommendations of the 2018 Tourism All-Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry into the sharing economy.

It said that many businesses who advertise on sharing economy platforms do not comply with legislation aimed at protecting customers.

The letter also called for an industry roundtable and a consultation to determine the best mechanism for ensuring regulatory compliance and the safety of consumers. 

C&IT recently reported on Airbnb’s expansion into meeting events, which has cornered an estimated 22% of the market - making it larger than any individual global hotel group.

C&IT has asked Airbnb for a comment on the call for increased regulation.

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