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"Guest editorial": Overtourism and the sharing economy – tourism cities at a crossroads

"Guest editorial": Overtourism and the sharing economy – tourism cities at a crossroads

Moreno-Gil, Sergio and Coca-Stefaniak, J. Andres ORCID: 0000-0001-5711-519X (2020) "Guest editorial": Overtourism and the sharing economy – tourism cities at a crossroads. International Journal of Tourism Cities, 6 (1). pp. 1-7. ISSN 2056-5607 (doi:

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The tourism industry is fiercely competitive at all levels. While the sector has witnessed a considerable number of new destinations emerge and bid for a share of the market, established and arguably more mature destinations compete to consolidate existing markets and develop new ones. Tourism companies are also facing the arrival of new competitors from other industries. However, this evolving pattern is as applicable to the offer as it is to the demand side of the spectrum. In today’s globalised world, tourists have an international range of choices when it comes to tourism destinations and tour operators.

It is against this highly competitive backdrop that the concept of the sharing economy has arrived, initially as a philosophical alternative to more mainstream travel and hospitality options and, more recently, as a convenient - and even personalised - choice in the search for more authentic experiences by tourists with a wide range of disposable incomes (Paulauskaite et al., 2017). This breakthrough innovation has changed the tourism ecosystem as well as tourism destinations at all levels. New players have arrived, redefining relationships among stakeholders and creating new impacts in tourism cities or exacerbating existing ones, including the contested phenomenon of overtourism (see, for instance Koens et al., 2018; or Szromek et al., 2019, among others). Examples of these newcomers can be found in online platforms that range from accommodation (e.g. Airbnb, HomeAway, CouchSurfing) to transport (e.g. Uber, BlaBlaCar), and also include customer reviews (e.g. TripAdvisor), general information (e.g. Wikipedia, Wikitravel), travel guiding (e.g. Tours by Locals) and food & beverage (e.g. EatWith), among others. In fact, the advent of the sharing economy has had a profound impact on the hospitality and tourism ecosystem over the last decade, affecting almost every single one of its components (Almeida-Santana and Moreno-Gil, 2017). The rapid development of the sharing economy and particularly some of its more negative impacts have led to a number of global tourism destinations taking measures to regulate it and, in some cases, limit it considerably. These have included Barcelona (Spain), where local government stopped issuing new licenses for short-term rental accommodation nearly three years ago (Burgen, 2017). Since then, key tourism destinations globally have sought to limit the expansion of Airbnb and other short-term accommodation service platforms (Guttentag, 2018). In Europe global tourism cities such as Krakow, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Vienna, among others, have also sought help from the European Union to tighten up existing regulatory frameworks in this respect (Henley, 2019). However, this reaction by tourism cities is not limited to the accommodation sector. London, for instance, revoked Uber’s license to operate as a private transport provider in November 2019 as a result of irregularities found in its service provision – a decision that is currently subject to appeal by Uber (Topham, 2019). One of the issues this situation inevitably raises is the extent to which the initial ethical principles of the sharing economy have evolved over time and what role can operators such as Fairbnb play in today’s sharing economy spectrum of services and operators (Petruzzi et al., 2019).

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ‘Publisher: Emerald Publishing Limited. Copyright © 2020, International Tourism Studies Association. This AAM is provided for your own personal use only. It may not be used for resale, reprinting, systematic distribution, emailing, or for any other commercial purpose without the permission of the publisher.’
Uncontrolled Keywords: sharing economy, overtourism, Airbnb, sustainability, sustainable tourism, urban tourism, tourism cities
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Faculty of Business > Tourism Research Centre
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2022 15:11

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