Re-thinking policies for the tourism sharing economy



The sharing economy has grown exponentially in recent years and is forecast to reach USD 335 billion by 2025, according to projections by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Much of this growth is in the tourism sector, as the fast paced growth of peer-to-peer and shared usage platforms is changing the tourism marketplace and giving people new options for where to stay, what to do and how to get around. Sharing economy platforms have adopted different business models, some of which closely mimic traditional commercial activities, while others appeal to users’ sense of community.

Governments face a challenge in striking the right balance, making sure that they capture the opportunity to stimulate innovation and support the expansion and development of tourism as a whole, while addressing the challenges it poses for the traditional tourism sector and the impacts on society.

The rapid growth of the sharing economy is placing pressure on existing policy frameworks. This requires a balanced, informed approach, which considers all interests. Prevailing consumer protection, safety and quality assurance frameworks can be difficult to translate to the sharing economy model.


Governments are being called on to begin re-thinking current legislation to include sharing activities that do not neatly fit into existing regulatory frameworks, and to examine implications for taxation. Platforms may play a more active role in the future in providing clarity around tax obligations and supporting compliance, or even directly by collecting accommodation tax on behalf of hosts.  


The OECD recommends that governments take steps to:

Strengthen the strategic operating framework, considering the impacts of the sharing economy on broader policy and social objectives and on tourism, and the role of government in the marketplace.

  • Re-think policy incentives, better understand the policy environment and test new approaches, including a greater use of policy or innovation labs that bring together diverse stakeholder interests to brainstorm, and adopt an end-user mind-set.
  • Modernise policy and regulatory approaches, adopting a whole-of-government perspective. Develop performance-based and self-regulatory approaches, and utilise the data and reputational information gathered by sharing economy platforms.
  • Strengthen data collection and research on the impacts of the sharing economy on tourism and local communities.
  • Support the sharing of best practices and experiences amongst all levels of government (national, sub-national, local) and industry, particularly with regard to regulatory responses.

Read more in the chapter on "Policies for the Tourism Sharing Economy" in OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2016 and Highlights.

This chapter was prepared in co-operation with the Mowat Centre


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