Recently, the European Commission published a press release1 stating that they reached an agreement with Airbnb, Booking, Expedia and Tripadvisor to share their data. These four platforms will share data about holiday and other short-stay accommodation bookings from their platforms. This data will be shared with Eurostat, the EU statistical office, and published on their platform. The European Commission believes that this will contribute to more complete statistics on tourist accommodation around Europe, and therefore support public institutions and evidence-based policies.
A possible effect of sharing data from four of the largest accommodation platforms in Europe can be twofold. On the one hand, policy makers and municipalities can profit from having a better insight into a city’s tourism. If the government can predict, oversee and regulate the massive inflow of tourists every year, it could benefit both public administrations and local communities.
However, on the other hand, I can imagine that local communities are slightly worried about the availability of tourist data. Some popular tourist destinations, like Barcelona, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, already tried to put restrictions on Airbnb and other platforms to limit the impact on local communities.2 Currently, a trend is seen where investors are buying properties and then rent it to tourists. This mechanism drives up property prices, making it more and more difficult for the local community to find a place to stay. If exact data would be available on when and where most tourists will be, investing in real estate becomes even more attractive, driving up property prices even more.
Obviously, it is still early days in the developments of sharing tourist data, making it difficult to predict the exact outcome. The European Commission is aware of the possible effect on local communities and argues that “the Commission will continue to support the great opportunities of the collaborative economy, while helping local communities address the challenges posed by these rapid changes”.3
However, the question remains: will the sharing of tourist data eventually harm or benefit local communities and municipalities of the most tourist European cities?