International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law 2023

THE NEW ONLINE PLATFORM RULES It seems that among online booking services the new liability rules under the Digital Services Act will mostly affect short-term rental platforms, such as Airbnb, which will have to accept a system of trusted flaggers to oversee their rental offers and to report those in contravention with the local short-term tourist rental rules. Municipal authorities in the cities most affected by mass tourism might be happy to help set up a network of trusted flaggers to help them enforce those rules. If the platforms meet the threshold of 45 million average monthly active users, they will themselves have to be more proactive in detecting systemic risks relating to illegal short-term rentals. Whether this makes them actually more cooperative in ensuring the legal compliance of short-term rentals remains to be seen, particularly since the very large platforms’ risk-reducing obligations are defined in very general terms and leave the formulation and implementation of the measures to the platforms themselves. Some critics believe that a one-fits-all approach for all types of platforms will prove to be inefficient and that more specific sectoral rules would be in place.43 6 CONCLUSION The new online platform rules contained in the Digital Markets Act and in the Digital Services Act will certainly affect the online accommodation booking services. The largest online travel agents, particularly, will likely be considered digital gatekeepers and will have to comply with the corresponding obligations arising from the Digital Markets Act. This ex ante regulation should prevent abuses of their market power as well as unfair business practices by the largest platforms, create a level playing field for all accommodation service providers and also benefit the consumers. The ban on parity clauses seems to be a feature particularly welcomed by the accommodation service providers. The updated liability regime for the largest hosting providers, contained in the Digital Services Act, will be particularly important for the short-term rental services, such as Airbnb, which will have to assume a more active role in removing illegal offerings of short-term rentals in contravention with the local rules, particularly if they reach the threshold to be considered a very large online platform. This will be welcomed by the local authorities in the areas most burdened by mass tourism. 43 See Martinez, 2021.