Airbnb, Uber under attack in Barcelona

airbnb-logoThe Spanish city has become ground zero in a fight over how collaborative consumption should be regulated and taxed.

 

Barcelona would seem like the perfect market for web-based collaborative consumption firms like Airbnb and Uber. Spain’s second city is a hip tourist destination with a large population of young foreigners and a burgeoning tech sector.

And up until now, it has been. Depending on the month, Barcelona is Airbnb’s third or fourth largest market, tied with London behind New York and Paris. And while Uber only entered the city in April, it was greeted with fanfare.

But Barcelona has become a headache for the popular residence and ride-sharing platforms, ground zero in a fight over how collaborative consumption should be regulated and taxed.

Taxi drivers have asked Barcelona’s local government to shut down Uber because of what they see as unfair competition from unlicensed, untaxed drivers. Hotel unions have made similar complaints about Airbnb, and local residents have objected to the proliferation of unlicensed tourist apartments.

And the government has begun to listen.

“All this activity has to be legalized and be moved in the tax-paying world so as not to create unfair competition,” says Barcelona Second Deputy Mayor Sònia Recasens.

At a recent e-commerce conference at Barcelona’s IESE Business School, representatives of Airbnb and Uber played down the… READ MORE

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