Worldwide: The World Travel & Tourism Council [ WTTC ], the global forum for the travel and tourism industry, has published a landmark report outlining recommendations and best practices for jurisdictions to manage short-term rentals.
The report, entitled ‘Best practices for short-term rentals‘, was developed by WTTC with support from Airbnb, and draws on case studies from cities around the world in addressing the short-term rental sector. The purpose of the report is to offer “easy-to-implement” best practices for the increasingly popular lodging segment.
According to the tourism body, the travel and tourism sector’s ability to welcome travellers has increased due in part to the rising popularity of short-term rentals, particularly during the pandemic as domestic travel boomed.
The paper suggests that short-term rentals have increased the supply of available accommodations for travellers and helps the spread of visitors in a destination, while expanding local community participation in tourism and offering a different, and sometimes unique, option to travellers.
To help address the increased popularity of short-term rentals, the report offers case studies from destinations around the world, such as Cape Town, Sydney and Seattle. It includes policy recommendations such as data sharing, registration, smart taxation, and long-term community investment approaches as a means of benefitting all travel and tourism stakeholders that can inform potential future regulation.
WTTC president and CEO, Julia Simpson, said: “As we begin to recover from the ravages of the pandemic, we must focus on building back better in each of our industries. The best practices offered in this report will provide governments with key policy recommendations that will both promote tourism in their destinations while supporting those local communities.
“We know travellers are ready to explore the world once again and their return will also help power the world’s much-needed economic recovery,” she added.
Guests are often drawn to short-term rentals for the flexibility and amenities that they offer, such as kitchens, office spaces and gardens, and the ability to stay in locations outside of traditionally dense tourist zones.
According to a survey of guests who stayed in Airbnb listings conducted last year, 20 per cent indicated that if their choice of property were not an option, they would have changed their length of stay to ensure they were able to book their preferred property.
Airbnb global policy director Theo Yedinsky said: “Short-term rentals allows everyday people to take part in the tourism economy, and the income earned through hosting is helping many people navigate the impacts of inflation.
“In fact, approximately 35 per cent of Airbnb hosts globally say they host to help cover the rising cost of living. Additionally, short-term rentals help spread visitor spending through communities.
“As travel returns, governments and tourism officials can partner with short-term rental platforms like Airbnb to develop fair, reasonable rules that strengthen destinations, and preserve these economic benefits for communities and local residents,” he added.
Carlos Mercado, executive director Puerto Rico Tourism Company, which commissioned the report, said: “Throughout the pandemic, short-term rentals provided a much-needed boost not only to our travel and tourism sector, but to our economy. The revenue short-term rentals generate is used to fund our marketing efforts which is critical to driving international visitors back to Puerto Rico.”
The report analysed a number of popular destinations worldwide which have benefitted from implementing balanced rules to address short-term rentals, including Sydney in Australia [which has introduced a digital registration system] and Cape Town in South Africa [which has used data sharing to address an affordable housing crisis].
Partnerships between cities and short-term rental platforms on matters of digital registration and data-sharing agreements are seen by many to ensure compliance by rental operators and provide insights to governments that can inform future decisions on regulation.
Airbnb introduced a City Portal in late 2020 to provide a one-stop shop for relevant data that governments may require.
However, as more and more cities and countries introduce restrictions on short-term rental operations, the implementation of tourism taxes or registration schemes has drawn criticism from organisations and leading short-term rental industry bodies for their sweeping nature and – at times – inconsistent regulation in comparison with more traditional hospitality sectors e.g. hotels.
The report can be read in full at this link.
The WTTC is made up of 200 CEOs, chairs and presidents of the world’s leading travel and tourism companies from across the world covering all industries. The Council aims to raise awareness of the economic and social significance of the travel and tourism sector in government and the public.
According to the WTTC’s 2021 Economic Impact Report, travel and tourism made a 5.5 per cent contribution to global GDP and was responsible for 272 million jobs in 2020, the year when the world locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.