The Tourism Advisory Council of the NSW Business Chamber has released a new report calling for a balanced approach to regulating services such as Uber and Airbnb to encourage growth in the visitor economy, rather than restrict it.

Commissioned by the NSW Business Chamber, the report: The Sharing Economy: Issues, Impacts, and Regulatory Responses in the context of the NSW Visitor Economy, was submitted to the The Point to Point Transport Taskforce and the NSW Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment and Planning responsible for conducting an inquiry into the adequacy of the regulation of short-term holiday letting in New South Wales.

Based on the findings of the report, Tourism Advisory Council recommends five key principles for regulating the sharing economy:

1. Regulation should encourage the growth of commercial activity, not restrict it;
2. The opportunity should be taken to reduce overall regulation across the visitor economy;
3. Self-regulation should be encouraged before government intervenes;
4. A cross-governmental approach is required to develop an efficient regulatory framework; and
5. Regulatory responses should be based on strong empirical evidence.

“The rapid growth in the sharing economy has plainly disrupted traditional business models for transport, accommodation and other services and has been widely embraced by consumers. These industries are all integral to the NSW visitor economy, but regulation should seek to enable existing businesses rather than restrict the new. ” said Simon Spellicy, President of the NSW Tourism Advisory Council.

“Regulatory controls should be employed selectively to create a level playing field for all stakeholders. A new regulatory regime for the sharing economy is a unique opportunity to redress the regulatory burden faced by all businesses in the visitor economy, allowing those who wish to compete in this space to do so on a even footing.

“The reality is that growth in the sharing economy is being driven by consumer choice. Consumers clearly value the responsiveness, flexibility and opportunity for peer-to-peer engagement. Therefore, naturally aligned mechanisms of self-regulation, such as built-in consumer feedback, with timely operator response, should be encouraged and more rigorously developed to ensure quality service is delivered and maintained.

“The sharing economy offers a unique opportunity to redefine NSW’s visitor economy in a way that promises to benefit both new and existing businesses. The challenge for government at all levels is to embrace this opportunity and apply balanced regulatory controls to grow the overall visitor economy,” Mr Spellicy said.

A copy of The Sharing Economy: Issues, Impacts, and Regulatory Responses in the context of the NSW Visitor Economy, can be found here.