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New EU rules could unlock hosting benefits for millions

As the EU continues to develop proposals for new rules to govern short-term rental platforms like Airbnb, a delegation of EU leaders recently made the journey from Brussels to Airbnb’s offices in San Francisco to discuss how to make it easier for millions of EU citizens to share their homes and follow the rules. 

Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk made clear Airbnb’s support for the EU’s work to introduce new rules, highlighted the important role that home sharing plays in the lives of families and communities across the region — and how this boosts inclusive tourism. The group also discussed proposals put forward by Airbnb that would unlock the benefits of hosting for Europeans across the bloc while giving governments the tools they need to clampdown on speculators and over-tourism. 

More than two in five hosts in the EU say hosting helps them afford the rising cost of living, and one in three say the additional income helps them make ends meet.

The visit comes at a crucial time. Millions of EU families are battling a brutal cost-of-living crisis as they continue to recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The combined impact of these tragic events represents one of the greatest economic threats to families in decades. 

Against this backdrop, data from Airbnb reveals — for the first time — how the additional income from hosting is helping EU families navigate the economic downturn. More than two in five hosts in the EU say hosting helps them afford the rising cost of living, and one in three say the additional income helps them make ends meet.

The EU is home to more than 1.3 million hosts — more than any other region in the world — and 1 million share only one listing. The typical EU host earned just over €3,000 last year, which is equivalent to two months’ additional pay for the median EU household.

The typical EU host earned just over €3,000 last year, which is equivalent to two months’ additional pay for the median EU household.

While hosts keep the majority of the economics generated by travel on Airbnb, the benefits extend much further. A 2021 study by Oxford Economics found that travel on Airbnb supports almost 345,000 EU jobs and generates nearly €19 billion GDP contribution through guest spending. Airbnb has also collected and remitted more than €315 million in tourist taxes as a result of travel on the platform in the EU. 

For guests in the EU — who are also more European than at any point in Airbnb’s history — Airbnb is helping them discover new homes and communities they might otherwise have missed, while spreading the benefits of travel beyond hotel districts. In a recent survey, more than half of guests said their Airbnb listing enabled them to experience an area they probably wouldn’t have visited and that they took up their host’s recommendation of a local business or place to visit. 

Despite the overwhelming benefits that hosting brings to EU families and communities during this time of great need, millions of EU citizens are currently unable to benefit from the economic opportunities brought by home sharing. Local rules can be onerous and disproportionate — often because they are designed with large-scale tourism players in mind — and create unequal opportunities for families in the EU to use their homes to help boost their income. 

A 2021 study by Oxford Economics found that travel on Airbnb supports almost 345,000 EU jobs and generates nearly €19 billion GDP contribution through guest spending.

At the same time, we need to pay close attention to how tourism can negatively impact residents, and take strong and effective action when this is the case.

Our Neighbor Support Line is just one example of how Airbnb has invested in solutions to address these challenges. It’s now available in 12 European countries, providing a direct line of communication to Airbnb to report concerns about listings or guest behavior. We have also redirected or blocked nearly 350,000 people from booking in Europe through our party prevention measures.

More broadly, Airbnb sees regulation as an opportunity — not a threat — and has long-welcomed the EU consulting on harmonized rules to apply equally to families across the bloc. That is why we put forward proposals for regulations that would unlock the benefits of hosting for Europeans while clamping down on speculators and issues linked with over-tourism.

At the heart of the proposal is a new, single EU host register. For authorities, this would provide greater transparency via a single source of truth for data on hosting. For hosts, it would ensure everyday families have access to fair and proportionate rules and retain their right to provide services as a fundamental freedom of the EU, while ensuring that big businesses and speculators can be regulated more strictly. 

A common EU system that replaces local rules would be simpler and fairer for everyone — especially hosts who are disproportionately affected by burdensome local rules. Airbnb commits to supporting such an initiative by ensuring only those hosts with an EU registration number are allowed to publish listings on the platform.

The EU has already led the world on innovative rules for data protection and tech regulation. Now it has the opportunity to do the same for home sharing. As our co-founder made clear to the EU delegation in San Francisco, Airbnb wants to partner with the EU to support new rules, embrace data sharing agreements, and collectively build an inclusive and sustainable future for tourism in the EU that empowers local families and communities to keep the economics generated by tourism for themselves. 

Governments across the EU are already moving in this direction with the rules they introduce. France, Greece and the Netherlands are recent examples of governments introducing host registration systems that protect home sharing while more strictly regulating professional activity. Now we hope to work with the EU to make similar, fair and inclusive rules a success for everyone in the EU. 

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