The All Party Parliamentary Group for Tourism and the Hospitality Industry are conducting an inquiry into the impact of the sharing economy on the UK tourism industry, the benefits that it provides and the issues that have arisen including the impact on local communities. The aim of the APPG inquiry is to determine how the benefits derived from this new business model can be maximised while any adverse impacts can be reduced.
What do you think?
Whilst the UK Government has suggested measures to help to build consumers’ trust in online transactions in the sharing economy’ (Independent review of the sharing economy Government response; March 2015) our concern is with the micro and small tourism operator:
- There is simply not the protection afforded to the micro or small business as there is for the consumer. Our industry is dominated by micro businesses supporting many across Wales and whilst we largely operate as businesses, most are self-employed, often struggling to hold up their end of a business transaction via an off-shore on-line travel agency (OTA). There is a misguided assumption by both the consumer and the operator that the OTA offers protection for both, when in reality they offer little when things go wrong. Do you agree?
- On-line reviews are a serious concern to the micro operator. Where there are serious flaws in the product on offer, which need to be rectified, a bad review is understandable. However removing a malicious or incorrect review is extremely difficult if not impossible. Again agree or disagree?
- Whilst, we appreciate we cannot turn back time, online travel agencies, such as Airbnb, have the potential to provide opportunities, but also hold risk of monopolisation with a few off shore companies that cannot be regulated or required to pay UK tax eating the profits of micro and SMEs. We have great concern that our legitimate small businesses, paying UK rates of tax and abiding by our stringent legislation in relation to a range of consumer protection issues such as food hygiene; fire safety; etc. are being penalised by an unregulated sub-industry who can undercut on pricing and destroy viability. Is this really a sharing economy or simply a legitimised underground economy?
If you agree or disagree with the above or there are points you think the WTA could usefully make, let us know, however brief or lengthy send a response to firstname.lastname@example.org - closing date for the consultation is the 25th November, so please any comments by the 21st November.