Sustainability is often a reason for cities to consider becoming a sharing city. But what about sharing regions? During a morning in Trento I engaged with Trentino's (Italy) tourism industry to explore the opportunities of the collaborative (& sharing) economy for sustainable tourism in the region. Here are my main take-aways.
Tourism is an opportunity to bring the collaborative economy to rural regions. Even though the business case is more difficult, it makes as much sense to make a better use of existing skills and assets in empty rural regions as it does in dense urban areas.
The collaborative economy can boost the accessibility of a region. Local leaders from the tourism industry expressed a high interest to find new ways to combine ridesharing, carsharing and public transport at the local level.
Tapping into the collaborative economy could create many new business opportunities by lowering the threshold for the local population to start new activities and ventures. Simultaneously the local supply of services and activities will increase and diversify.
A key challenge for the local industry is to strike the right balance between new ideas and old interests. If collaboration can be achieved locally, traditional players may be able to innovate along with the new ideas and built superior services.
Another challenge is to bring the local government into the discussion to ensure a level playing field and equal access for consumers.
In Trentino there is a lot of public and private space sitting idle, as well as a lot of sports equipment. Opening up empty holiday houses, public and private workspaces and making accessible the sports equipment could significantly grow the local economy and tourism industry while hardly putting any new pressure on the environment. If the right policy climate is created, local entrepreneurs could make Trentino's collaborative economy happen.
A unique opportunity for Trentino is it's cooperative ethos. Many of the local enterprises and organizations are built as cooperatives. This unique character of collaboration combined with the latest technologies from the collaborative economy could put the region in pole position as one of the most accessible and sustainable destinations.
Overall we concluded that in regions where the collaborative economy is well developed, tourist and business travellers will stay longer, spend more, feel more satisfied, and are more likely to recommend the experience to others. From now on, we will work with the local industry to built a strategy and action plan to develop the collaborative economy in the region in a sustainable way and with respect to the local cooperative ethos. By making a better use of what is already there Trentino can give its visitors more places to go, more ways to move around, more things to do, more options to eat and more places to stay. I am looking forward to working with this, and other, beautiful tourist destinations and help the local ecosystems make the most of the collaborative economy.
By Pieter van de Glind.