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Outcome Copenhagen Lab
Outcome Copenhagen Lab
- Emmy Perez Fjalland from Danish Architecture Center (PhD researcher) - The sharing city
- Ida Bigum from Copenhagen Municipality - The Copenhagen Context [no Power Point Presentation]
- Lars Pico Geerdsen from KraksFondByforskning - Copenhagen & Airbnb – current situation and relevant policies
- Kirsten Munch Andersen from Horesta - Copenhagen & Airbnb & Tourism – Current situation, future opportunities
- Albert Eefting from Amsterdam City (Senior Policy Advisor Housing Affairs) - International Lessons – 1. Amsterdam [no Power Point Presentation]
- Alsino Skowronnek from Karat Studio - International Lessons – 2. Berlin
For the past year, the City of Copenhagen has been faced with various questions about the negative impacts of AirBnB on housing stock, housing price and business opportunities for hotels in the city. Up until now the municipality has assumed that any potential problems, related to the exponential growth of AirBnB listings in Copenhagen, are relatively small in volume – whereas the potential positive impacts of greater number of tourists experiencing the city in new ways is currently assumed to outweigh the negative effects. However, as the municipality tries to navigate into the sharing economy, the need to understand what is exactly the impact of the new platforms, such as the Airbnb, raises. Not only in terms of the growth and innovation potential but also to guarantee that it develops in a fair way (for businesses and workers), as pointed by Ida Bigum. In order to do so, specific data on Airbnb operations in Copenhagen, have been requested to Airbnb.
As pointed out by Lars Pico Geerdsen, these data will allow to answer several questions, such as: How is Airbnb affecting the supply of beds?; What effect does it have on the number of visitors in the city?; What is the value of a home?; Is it affecting the individuals’ residential location choices on the long run? Therefore, helping the Municipality and the tourism sector to have a real picture of the problematic and regulating accordingly, but also to help the research community to evaluate the numbers and patterns deriving from it.
From the cities perspective, the main issues with the sharing economy, specifically when addressing Airbnb, are in taxes, safety, liability, trust, and competitive equity. All the three speakers from Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Berlin, pointed to Airbnb’s failure to collaborate with local governments and research bodies, and the fact that this failure in collaboration may in the end threaten the longevity of the Airbnb business model, since the local governments see themselves obligated to regulate without having a full picture of the numbers behind it, e.g. in Amsterdam the maximum short-term rental period was set in 60 days/year, in Copenhagen between 6 to 8 weeks/year, and in Berlin, renting through Airbnb, has been forbidden. However, without collaboration from Airbnb it is very difficult to assess who is complying with the law and who is not, who is renting and for how-long, who is just renting sporadically subletting and who is transforming it into a business. Another important challenge for the cities, as pointed by Albert Eefting from Amsterdam City, is the onset of a new line of businesses feeding on Airbnb’s operations, that can potentially incur and be complicit in illegal situations.
Another topic of discussion during the Lab was that, technology-facilitated sharing between strangers has been leading to an emotional discourse on the media and uncertainty amongst people and administrations on how to deal with it. Further, there is not a fixed understanding and a strict definition of what sharing economy is and what is the best way to navigate in it. Initially greeted with much enthusiasm, the sharing economy has been more recently found to be a ‘disruptive wave’ to the conventional economy. However, as pointed, the sharing economy came to stay and it should be seen as a potential for innovation and growth, that will probably be unfolded into more mainstream and professionalized sharing platforms in the future.
Airbnb also presents a challenge to the traditional tourism market, as Airbnb has shaken up this model by providing an online marketplace that permits the large-scale rental of spaces from one ordinary person to another (‘peer-to-peer accommodation’), raising some questions regarding when a private rental becomes a private business, and if so, what the standards and regulations are that should be applied? Should they be the same as for the hotel industry? As pointed out by HORESTA, Airbnb operations have been growing in a very fast pace for the last two years, and Copenhagen is in fact amongst the top cities in the world being impacted by Airbnb with 1 listing per 33,27 inhabitants.
However, its impacts still remain to be unfold into true facts, beyond the existing (often emotional) discourse surrounding it, in order to have a holistic understanding of the real effects in the housing and tourism markets in Copenhagen. In order to promote targeted regulation, that can address the ‘real issues’, the data from Airbnb need to be available and analyzed to provide the evidence to understand how and what needs to be regulated.
A more comprehensive and extensive publication on the topic will be available early November. In the next Copenhagen Lab, scheduled for the first quarter of 2017, we will continue the discussion in more depth, as specific data on the AirBnB operations in Copenhagen will be available.
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