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The sharing economy: is it just hype or a paradigm shift in tourism?


“This is only the start“, says an enthusiastic April Rinne about the topic she is addressing. The young lady has visited 87 countries and works in Amsterdam and Seoul as an advisor on the sharing economy. At the ITB Future Day of the ITB Berlin Convention she explains the effect of the sharing economy on tourism by quoting the example of four fictitious tourists. “Imagine yourself in your career role and then looking around as a traveller”, she says to the audience. “The sharing economy is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to think about the tourists in the city you live in. The colour-coded map of Berlin supports a theory that she has applied to other big cities as well: “Tourist areas are not the only parts where exciting things happen.” 
This is where the sharing economy changes everything. This growing movement opens up more and more opportunities for bringing people together. People can experience completely new things locally, as illustrated by the advisor’s fictitious examples. New business models, including house and car sharing “open up completely new horizons“, April Rinne enthuses. Access is via smartphone and apps and takes the direct path, with no intermediaries required. Peer-to-peer is the watchword. The question is no longer what can be shared but what cannot be shared. The goal is to “create more markets for things that previously had none.” She gives an example: “In six years Airbnb has accomplished what Hilton took 93 years to achieve.”
According to her, “the term ‘tourist’ must be understood more broadly.” It is the human interaction that she cares most about and it is this that gets to the root of the problem of our age. People get into contact with one another again and establish trust. Her vision is that ”from these new relationships will spring new communities and all people will become part of a bigger whole.” The important thing is that “we can all play our part.” With regard to technology, demographic change, the growing number of self-employed and creeping urbanisation, for April Rinne, an experienced backpacker, making use of resources and decentralisation are additional key factors. Her argument is that ”many sharing economy business models save costs, increase benefits and are better for the environment.”April Rinne is adamant that “the sharing economy is absolutely real.“ As to whether it is just hype of represents a paradigm shift her answer is: “Everyone must make up their own mind whether this is a one-off or will endure, and she adds: “Assuming the sharing economy is just a cog in the wheel of tourism and the economy and it opens up new horizons for the travel market as a whole my question is – do you want to be part of it?”     Redaktionsbüro Schwartz

Foto: April Rinne auf dem ITB Future Day des ITB Berlin Kongresses 

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