Conference 2016

Tenth Conference, Barcelona: ‘Tourism and the sharing economy; implications for planning law’

For the Conference case, click here.


The tenth conference was held in Barcelona on November 18 and 19, 2016. The topic was Tourism and the sharing economy. The purpose of the meeting was to debate the new legal issues  which have risen regarding tourist and shared economy services such as AirBnB and Uber. Issues discussed include: Is it/should it be legal to regulate private economic activities? In what contexts and to what extent? Barcelona was the ideal location for discussion of this topic, as the city faces several related challenges and is a front-runner in the regulation of activities such as AirBnb. On the final day of the meeting, participants toured some of the areas of the city which are hugely affected by these new private economic activities. Our wonderful hosts Pablo Molina Alegre and Marta Lora-Tamayo Vallve showed us around the city.

During the case study discussions, we focussed on regulation possibilities – especially planning instruments such as zoning plans, licensing, and further restrictions set to limit stay via AirBnb in specific locations. Several jurisdictions also apply specific permissions to use a building as an overnight stay for touristic purposes. We also discussed national and local policies on this matter, and the way countries and cities embrace or decline the so-called sharing economy. Approaches differ across jurisdictions: In some cities (e.g. Barcelona, Amsterdam and Lisbon) the scale and intensity of sharing economy is very intense with higher impact, while in other cities (e.g. Helsinki, Warsaw) governments do not regard it as a problem because the scale and impact on neighbourhoods is manageable.

In summing up the discussions, Professor Rachelle Alterman focussed on the need to face the sharing economy in the legal context. Many cities encourage tourism, but also find a way to limit activities which cause a (real or perceived) negative impact on city centres and neighbourhoods. Land use plans can be helpful, but there is a need to address the issues through policy and regulation.

Program – click here