The Tourism APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Groups) has today released its Interim Report on its inquiry into the impact of the Sharing Economy on the UK tourism industry. The inquiry, aims to determine how the benefits derived from this new business model can be maximised while any adverse impacts can be reduced.

The Interim Report contains the following six key conclusions:

  • As a principle, all businesses offering accommodation in the visitor economy, whether existing ones or new ones enabled by the sharing economy and its platforms, should compete on a level playing field.
  • There is an urgent need to independently clarify and codify the adequacy of the various 'checklists' or other security assurances being offered by sharing economy platform.
  • Far more attention needs to be given, and evidence sought, as to the experiences of, and impact on, those living in close proximity, either as physical neighbours, or in the neighbourhoods of, properties being used regularly by sharing economy businesses.
  • The implications of local enforcement agencies not having adequate resources to carry out adequate safety inspections of sharing economy businesses due to severe budgetary restrictions must be grasped - not least by Government
  • The Inquiry received strong arguments for a “soft touch” statutory registration scheme for all visitor accommodation that might operate via an online implied consent registration process and will consider this further.
  • There are cities and large towns outside London where variable limits on the use of residential accommodation for tourism (either greater or lower than 90 days) could be introduced dependent on local factors and experience.
Commenting on the APPG for Tourism 's Interim report on the Sharing Economy, its chair Gordon Marsden MP said;

"In this interim report, released today to coincide with the start of English Tourism Week, we have endeavoured to look at the evidence we received, guided by the overriding principle that there should be a level playing field in standards for both traditional models and the distribution innovations of the sharing economy.

"We have therefore endeavoured to look strongly at the issues of accommodation safety and legal protections, as well as at the grey areas of responsibility between platforms such as AirBnB and others and the hosts to visitors. We have also touched on the potential for a registration scheme which we have heard advocated, as well as the impact on those affected as neighbours to properties participating in the sharing economy.

"Much has been said about the impact of the sharing economy in London, but we also speak in the Report about the urgent need for more research on what is happening elsewhere, and about the challenging capacity of local authorities to respond as enforcement agencies to this changing accommodation landscape.

"These are issues the APPG will return to with its final recommendations later this spring. Balancing the choice, diversity and innovations coming with the sharing economy with the principles of a level playing field will not be easy. But this is an area of tourism where more clarity and definition is, we believe, urgently needed'

"We are grateful to all those groups and organisations that have given written and oral evidence to the Inquiry, as well as to Parliamentary colleagues for taking part in the oral sessions, and for logistical support from ABTA and the Tourism Alliance. This Inquiry has responded to the fast-growing phenomenon of the sharing economy's presence in the Tourism accommodation sector - its innovations and its attractions, but also the potential for adverse impacts and unforeseen consequences."