Last week, the Government of Catalonia announced its intention to regulate home sharing and said it will consult on draft proposals this summer. Felip Puig, Minister for Enterprise in Catalonia who has previously called for home sharing to be welcomed in the region, said the rules would embrace new forms of tourism.
These draft proposals are yet to be published – so while we applaud Minister Puig’s stated intentions, the exact detail of the new framework is still unknown.
A number of press reports since this announcement was made seem to suggest that – contrary to Minister Puig’s stated intentions – the draft proposals may actually restrict the ability of local residents to share their homes with guests, including extending the current registration and notification requirements to home sharing.
If these reports are accurate, rather than putting Catalonia at the cutting edge of innovation and sustainable tourism policies, these proposals risk putting disproportionate regulatory burdens on hosts, making it harder for them to share their homes and hospitality with guests. Local residents want to follow the rules, but they need to be made easier – not harder – for regular people to follow.
Some aspects of the new proposals are certainly good news for everyone in Catalonia. We know that hosts have previously called to be allowed to pay tourist taxes in Barcelona, for example. We now want to work together with the Government of Catalonia to ensure that all aspects of their proposals are good news for local residents and that the region does not unwittingly choke its global reputation for innovation.
As I have written previously on this blog, Airbnb hosts are regular people who are sharing their homes and using the additional income to stay in their homes. They are not businesses or contractors – they are ordinary local residents like Antonio, Dámaris and Rosa, people who are helping to make ends meet by sharing their homes and the city they love. They are providing a unique travel experience and are attracting new, quality guests to Catalonia who want to experience it like a local.
We will continue to encourage the Catalonian government to follow the example of places like Paris, London, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Bruges, who have successfully introduced fair legal frameworks that allow people to share their homes without unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy. Recent examples from the UK and The Netherlands show how governments are looking at further steps they can take to support the sharing economy and the positive impacts it has on local residents and their communities.
As the eyes of Europe and the world turn to how Catalonia is approaching the sharing economy, we want to work with everyone there on fair, progressive rules that support local residents, increase consumer choice and promote modern and sustainable business models.