In an interview with the “Jornal de Negócios” and “Antena 1“, the president of the Pestana group, José Theotónio, declared that: “Airbnb, Local Lodging and hostels are all welcome. They represent competition but are necessary to build Portugal as a cosmopolitan and sustainable tourist destination.” This statement signals a significant turn-around in the tradition hostility voiced by the hotel industry towards peer-to-peer holiday lettings.
As of 01 July, online letting platforms such as AirBnB and Booking can only list properties duly licensed in the National Tourist Registry. The obligation to enroll is part of a simplex initiative known as “Simpler Tourist Licenses”. With the new regulation, the Government intends to avoid unfair competition between property owners and tour operators as well as strengthen compliance.
The Tax Office (AT) is working on a system which will allow taxpayers to pay their taxes by direct debit with a simple payment order. This “Simplex” measure should be available by the end of 2017. The expectation is that the “IUC” road tax and the “IMI” property tax will be the most likely candidates for this method of payment. They are the basis of many fines for delays due to taxpayer forgetfulness
Lisbon and Porto saw the number of properties registered in the local housing increase by 3,400 and 1,300 respectively in 2016. In a new trend, the largest growth took place outside of the historical neighborhoods, where the supply doubled. Lisbon closed 2016 with 6,800 registrations, twice as many as it had in 2015. Of the 13,000 new registrations nationwide, many were due to legalization of irregular situations that already existed rather than brand-new offerings.
In almost two-thirds of cases, Local Lodging (“Alojamento Local”) is the main economic activity for Lisbon homeowners who choose to let holiday accommodations to tourists. This is one of the conclusions of the study on “AL” offerings in the Portuguese capital that was developed by the Higher Institute of Labour and Business Sciences (ISCTE). According to the same study, almost 86% of “AL” offerings are in apartments.
The holiday accommodation platform, Airbnb, is interested in offering long-term lets to help its customers base find homes to live in. This initiative builds on the company’s already existing experience. Since 2011, Airbnb has included a sub-lease section on its website in more than 5,000 cities, listing houses and apartments for rent by the month.
“Turismo de Portugal” has set ambitious goals for the coming decade, following a 17% jump in tourism in January:
- a) A 4% annual increase, thereby doubling overnight stays by 2027;
- b) Reduce seasonality by one third by increasing off-season offerings over the same period;
- c) Boost training and qualifications of hotel and restaurant personnel;
- d) Bolster national approval for tourism to 90% of the population;
- e) Enhance conservation and appreciation of Portugal’s cultural and national heritage;
- f) Strengthen competitiveness and innovation;
- g) Improve qualifications and inclusion of activities and residents.
Tourism already represents 17% of gross domestic product and the view is optimistic for on-going growth and improvement.
According to latest estimates (February 2017), there are now over 33,700 Local Lodging establishments in Portugal. Of these, the overwhelming majority – more than 77% – are concentrated in the Algarve, according to “Confidencial Imobiliário”.
The assembly of a Lisbon condominium prohibited local lodging activity in its building. The fraction in question was intended for residential housing but was being used for commercial purposes. Numerous problems gave rise to complaints. Loss of privacy in common areas, excessive noise at night and poor use of the pool were some of the problems. The decision was upheld by the Lisbon Court of Appeals.
The number of listings available for local lodging grew by 385% since the new law came into effect in November 2014, according to a report by AHP (the Hotel Association of Portugal). At that time, just 6,000 properties were registered for short-term stays. Today, that figure has multiplied to 29,000.