The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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MEP Josianne Cutajar in consultation meetings on the upcoming Short-Term Rentals law

Friday, 17 March 2023, 14:17 Last update: about 13 months ago

Whilst delivering her keynote speech at an event organized by MBB and EPLO in Valletta earlier this week, MEP Josianne Cutajar highlighted the importance of the Proposal for a Regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services (STR).

Dr Cutajar stated that this piece of legislation, which she had been pushing for as a Member of the TRAN Committee, including in the Opinion on the Digital Services Act, the Opinion on a European Strategy for Data and that on the Digital Markets Act, which she had negotiated on behalf of the Socialists, was well over due.

Cutajar, who was recently appointed as Rapporteur for the TRAN Opinion on the STR proposal, emphasised that renting out short-term accommodation in the collaborative digital economy cannot remain unregulated or without sufficient enforcement, to the detriment of traditional accommodation premises, which are asked to comply with high standards in conducting their business, as well as the local community, among others.

The MEP quoted a 2019 Central Bank of Malta policy note, which highlighted that from just 813 Maltese apartments advertised on Airbnb in 2013, the number increased by ten times in 2019, showing significant growth in private tourist rentals. In light of this, Josianne Cutajar stated that proper regulation must be in place to ensure that property owners who would like to become, or are already, hosts in the STR sector, continue benefitting from the income generated; tourists and customers continue to enjoy this alternative accommodation experience; and a level playing field is achieved, allowing fair competition for legitimate and traditional accommodation providers.

Cutajar stressed the need for this legislation to take into consideration the concerns of the various affected players within the market, whilst being an important first step in empowering local authorities to develop laws and policies, which address the challenges brought about by this sector, based on the easier access to data provided. In this regard, the MEP also underlined that the growth in the STR sector should not only be accompanied by measures that will preserve the quality of our touristic product, but also aim towards a more sustainable tourism ecosystem.

In her address, MEP Josianne Cutajar also emphasised that while striving to develop transparent and efficient systems for the sharing of data by hosts and platforms, achieving easily accessible and user-friendly systems, which provide for easy communication is necessary. She added that in this regard it is paramount to take into account the less digitally-skilled actors in the industry and to ensure time efficiency for all the players involved.

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