regulation
ISCF chair Máire ní Mhurchú [Credit: ISCF]

ISCF chair welcomes signing of EU data-sharing regulation

Europe / Ireland: The Irish Self-Catering Federation [ISCF], the largest representative body for self-catering properties in Ireland, has welcomed the signing of the EU’s regulation on short-term rental data collection and sharing in Brussels as having “positive, long-term consequences for the sector”.

After the regulation was due to be signed and officially published in the Official Journal of the European Union yesterday [10 April], the 27 EU member states will now have a 24-month period to establish the mechanisms for data exchanges, which are already being prepared with the support of the European Commission.

By setting a data collection and sharing framework for the EU member states, the EU regulation is designed to harmonise registration requirements for short-term rentals when introduced by national authorities, clarify rules to ensure registration numbers are displayed and checked on online booking platforms, and streamline data sharing between online platforms and public authorities.

Máire ní Mhurchú, chair of the ISCF, says that the EU regulation will quantify the amount of available self-catering in Ireland and will raise and maintain standards across the industry.

ní Mhurchú, who travelled to the European Parliament for the signing process, added that the move would also strengthen the sustainability of the sector by highlighting the economic important role played by small family-run businesses in rural communities.

In February, the European Parliament approved an agreement reached in November with negotiators from member states regarding EU regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services.

When the green light is given, platforms including Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group / Vrbo and TripAdvisor will be required to transmit activity data to the public authorities across the bloc on a monthly basis. “Small and micro” online short-term rental platforms will be required to do so after every three months.

EU member states will create Single Digital Entry Points for the seamless collection and exchange of information. According to the Council, the points will be interoperable and will guarantee data protection.

At the time, the ISCF called on the Irish Government to provide “clarity” on how it plans to proceed with planning legislation for short-term rental businesses in Ireland. The Irish Government appointed Fáilte Ireland as the statutory agency to manage the data for Ireland.

While welcoming the signing of the EU regulation, ní Mhurchú warned that the implementation of the STTL [short-term tourist lettings] register must be accompanied by the introduction of clear planning guidelines around the development of glamping and other self-catering businesses, the absence of which she says is exacerbating the ongoing critical shortage of available bed nights in Ireland.

The Irish Government approved a registration scheme as part of the Short-Term Tourist Letting Bill and the publication of the General Scheme of the Bill back in December 2022.

She continued: “The register, adapted to the standards of the EU regulation, will help to support the further development of the self-catering sector as making rural communities economically viable is core EU principle.

“For far too long in Ireland, hotel accommodation has been legislated for and promoted which is of little benefit to rural communities as such developments are only regarded as economically viable for large urban centres like Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick and Dublin as evidenced in the Saville and Crowe reports into the domestic tourism and hospitality market.

“We also welcome the appointment of Fáilte Ireland as the statutory authority with responsibility for implementing the register. This move will place the self-catering sector on a par with other tourism organisations, such as the Irish Hotels Federation and Camping Ireland,” she added.

Commenting on the requirement for updated planning legislation for the development of short-term tourist lettings in Ireland, ní Mhurchú said: “The planning issues for short-term rentals needs to be urgently reviewed. Currently, self-catering accommodation is looked on as housing units rather than economic value units.”

The ISCF chair further warned that the supplementary income of many families operating within the sector would be significantly impacted unless full clarification is issued regarding the planning permission process ahead of the implementation of the STTL register.

She said: “We are calling on Minister for Tourism, Catherine Martin, and Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, to sit down with the ISCF to ensure no self-catering businesses, many of which are small family rural tourism businesses, are lost. Issues with planning need to be sorted first, with a derogation for all existing STTL businesses. Clear guidelines for planners and owners are essential before the register is introduced.”

The ISCF is a non-profit national organisation representing owners of self-catering properties in Ireland, providing a quality assurance system for all members. ISCF member operators have over 6000 units of self-catering accommodation across Ireland.

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