UNWTO Report on New Platform Tourism Services (or the so-called sharing economy) presented at the UNWTO General Assembly.

New platform services, or the so-called sharing economy, remain one of the game changers for the tourism sector. The topic was discussed at the UNWTO General Assembly’s special session on smart tourism, where UNWTO presented its latest report “New Platform Tourism Services (or the so-called Sharing Economy) – Understand, rethink and adapt”. The report recommends “to find creative solutions to safeguard consumer rights and quality standards while ensuring fair competition for all businesses.”

While tourism continues to grow strongly, a shift in business models and consumer behaviour has been noticeable over the last years. The combination of the global economic crisis, advances in technology and the emergence of digital platforms has resulted in the rise of new platform tourism services, often referred to as the sharing economy.

The report aims at providing useful insight on the new platform tourism services and at contributing to the ongoing discussion and collaboration around them among stakeholders. The publication looks into new platform tourism services across destinations worldwide accommodation, transport, food and ‘things to do’ or tourism activities. The study aims to gain a better understanding of how this phenomenon is shaping the tourism sector, to identify challenges it poses, and to assess possible actions moving forward.

Findings and recommendations 

The report is based on a survey, among 250 destinations, on the importance and impact of the new tourism services. A total of 114 responses were received from organisations across all world regions and three key conclusions emerged: 

1. New platform tourism services are important and are expected to continue growing in importance in new platform tourism services (information, accommodation, transport, food and other tourism activities), information and accommodation appear to be the most relevant today, followed by transport services. Food and other tourism activities remain somewhat behind in terms of current importance. 

2. The positive impact of new platform tourism services participants of the survey. 

3. Opportunities generated should not distract from the pressing need to address the economic, social or environmental challenges created by the new platform tourism services. Doing so requires a comprehensive approach encompassing four key governance areas: (i) planning and sustainability; (ii) fair competition; (iii) consumer protection; and (iv) labour conditions. 

As stated by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai in main directions in the way forward: understanding and monitoring the new platform tourism services, rethinking regulation and addressing the interests of all stakeholders involved – tourists, workers, providers, platforms, competitors, and local communities –  on a ‘4C’ approach – communication, collaboration, cooperation and coordination.” 

FIND OUT MORE: http://www.e-unwto.org/doi/book/10.18111/9789284419081