Josianne Cutajar

The EU Short-Term Rentals (STR) initiative, a proposal by the EU Commission to harmonise and streamline the framework for data generation and data sharing on short-term rental accommodation services across the EU, was discussed at a business session held on 13th March 2023.

The session was organised by the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) in collaboration with the European Parliament Liaison Office (EPLO) on the EU Short-Term Rentals initiative.

The popularity of short-term accomodation rental services has ballooned in recent years along with the rise of the platform economy. Despite the opportunities it has created, it also developed a number of challenges affecting hotels, local communities, and public authorities.

Andrew Agius Muscat, CEO of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), said that instead of fighting this new form of accomodation provision MHRA called for policy frameworks to correct it. He sees the STR initiative as a much-needed step in achieving a level playing field in tourism and accomodation.

Alison Mizzi, Malta Business Bureau President

Alison Mizzi, president of the MBB stated that, “to manage this economic activity better, public authorities need to be well-equipped with data on short-term accommodation rentals to be able to develop evidence-based policies and for better law enforcement.”

“The lack of uniformity that is currently being experienced on the market is impacting the good functioning of the European Single Market. This is why the European Commission proposed the STR initiative.”

The event was also attended by MEP Josianne Cutajar who is rapporteur for the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN).

Ms Cutajar said that the proposed rules will improve transparency and the collection and sharing of data from hosts and online platforms, whilst giving public authorities a strengthened legal backing to access beneficial data.

She explained that such data will assist local authorities to address the challenges brought about by the online short-term rental market, better responding to the travellers’ and the locals’ concerns, whilst helping them to ensure that the quality of our touristic product is maintained, and a more sustainable tourism ecosystem achieved.

This will allow consumers to continue benefiting from a wide range of accommodation options with better peace of mind and for legitimate and traditional accommodation providers to compete on a more level playing field within the market.

Julia Aquilina, policy executive of The Malta Chamber, highlighted three crucial points which are important to businesses in line with the STR initiative: the streamlining of legislation to ensure there are no gaps within policy, the importance of simplified data sharing and ensuring clear guidelines and a structured framework.

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