The number of new Local Accommodation (“AL”) registrations in the municipality of Oporto fell by 40% in the first quarter of 2019 as compared to the same period last year. The City does not manifest the need to implement “AL” containment measures as has happened in Lisbon, considering that tourism in Porto continues to grow and is in good health.
In the neighbourhoods most pressured by tourism, it will be possible to open new Local Lodging Establishments (“AL”). However, according to the rules that the capital’s municipal council wants to see approved, new registrations will be dependent on a special authorisation. “AL” licences will be valid for five years, after which they will have to be renewed. Currently, seven historical areas face restrictions.
Attentive to Local Lodging activities, the tax man is tightening its grip on owners who fail to report and pay their taxes. Online platforms may soon be required to share information on customers, according to the Jornal de Notícias. The aim of the Portuguese Revenue is to avoid fraud and tax evasion. To this end, the ministry is studying ways to force the holiday letting reservation platforms to report “AL” operator data to Finanças.
The new regulatory restrictions implemented since October of last year have failed to slow demand for central Lisbon properties. While new Local Lodging applications dropped by 60%, foreign investors continue to seek out and buy property in historical districts as real estate sales soared by 38% over the period. While the “AL” sector is still significant, there are clearly other factors driving the market as well.
The Vila Nova de Gaia Municipal Council has passed regulations to limit Local Lodging establishments and prevent the dislocation of long-term residents from historic neighbourhoods. The city centre and the entrance to the bridge D. Luís I are two of the target areas for the new restrictions. These measures follow on the heels of similar actions taken in Lisbon and other municipalities around the country.
In the past six months, almost 2,000 “AL” enrolments have been wound up. Many owners have stopped letting but failed to cancel their registrations due to capital gains tax liabilities. In the first quarter of 2019, new “AL” sign-ups fell nationally by 40% and by 60% in Lisbon. These numbers are likely to be understated. In total, the capital currently counts with 18,000 Local Lodging Establishments. Nationwide, there are approximately 83,000. 2020 could prove to be a year of mass exodus.
The Lisbon Municipal Council has prepared regulations which delimit the “’containment areas” to Local Lodging according to the law that came out last year. To the five neighborhoods that have been suspended since October 2018 from new holiday lets registrations – Bairro Alto, Madragoa, Castelo, Alfama and Mouraria – will be added two more: Graça and Colina de Santana.
There are more than 80,000 Local Lodging Establishments in Portugal and only eight inspectors from “ASAE” (Autoridade de Segurança Alimentar e Económica) to oversee them. Lack of safety and health conditions are the most common problems. But the capacity to intervene is “very limited”.
The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates that tourism in Portugal will expand by 5.3% in 2019, more than double the European average of 2.5%. Last year, the sector grew by 8.1%, contributing €38.4 billion to the Portuguese economy, a total of 19.1% of the country’s overall economic activity.
Over the past four decades, global warming has taken hold in Portugal according to statistics gathered by the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera ‑ IPMA. Maximum temperatures have increased by 1.6ºc over the past 40 years and summer has stretched by 6 more weeks in the north and centre of the country, as defined by the number of days with temperatures above 25ºc. This trend has been less pronounced in the south. There has also been less rain leading to more frequent severe droughts.