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Airbnb, the internet Local Lodging reservation platform, collected and delivered €2,600,000 in Municipal Tourist Tax during the first six months of the year, reaching a grand total of €8,100,000 raised on behalf of the Lisbon Council since the tax began in January of 2016. In 2017, the aggregate holiday let levy revenues came to €18,500,00 taken in by the country’s capital city.
The European authorities require Airbnb to make changes to its operations. The company has until the end of August to present solutions. Greater transparency regarding costs and the conditions for cancellation of the accommodation by the owner are among the requirements.
Yescapa, an online platform for renting motorhomes, joins more traditional holiday accommodation options. Dubbed the “Airbnb of motorhomes”, Yescapa offers an “on the road again” vacation experience that is different from hotels, local lodging, camping or hostels. The startup began six years ago in France and is now expanding to Portugal at yescapa.pt
Marriott International and Hostmaker announced a collaboration to introduce a new holiday home rental undertaking under Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio Homes brand. This venture marks Marriott’s first step into the home-share market, nine years after Brian Chesky founded Airbnb and disrupted the travel industry. The move comes at a time when Airbnb is attempting to step out of its “alternative travel” image, introducing concepts like Airbnb Plus that offer a more curated travel experience. Meanwhile, other traditional hospitality companies like AccorHotels and Hyatt have also launched similar endeavours.
Banning short-lived Airbnb accommodation in bustling areas, diverting cruise ships from the centre, boosting the tourist tax to almost double, and even limiting “fun” activities such as boating or Segway tours are just a few of the measures that are on the table to control tourism in Amsterdam.
Danish tax minister, Karsten Lauritzen, announced that the country wants a “sharing economy” to flourish, but on condition that operators pay tax. Denmark will also limit property listings to 70 nights a year. Owners can benefit from a tax-free allowance of up to €5,400 per annum. In addition to tax issues, Airbnb is blamed for pushing up house prices in major cities.
The growth of Airbnb in Lisbon can be seen through the tourist taxes delivered to the City Council. In 2017, the total value of this levy charged in Lisbon in local lodging accommodations available on Airbnb came to €3.8 million. The number of guests staying in the Airbnb platform jumped from 1.6 million to 2.6 million last year.
The average annual income per owner of homes placed in Portugal on the Local Lodging network, Airbnb, is higher than in Italy or Spain. Only Japan surpasses the national average, according to a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which sees room for increasing taxes on this type of “digital” business.
AMAL, the Algarve’s mayors’ group unanimously approved the introduction of a tourist tax for visitors staying in the region’s hotels and local lodging establishments. All municipalities in the region have committed to participating in the new charge. While the tax has yet to be set, it is expected that the final fee will follow the example of Lisbon where visitors pay €1 per night per person. Airbnb, the online reservation platform, helps to collect much of the tax and delivers millions of Euros to the city each year. Alternatively, the Algarve councils may follow the model of Oporto that has recently introduced a €2 per night per person levy. The region’s hoteliers’ association along with local lodging owners are expected to oppose the measure.
Each council plans to retain the money raised in their respective townships to be used “in favour of the development of the Algarve municipalities.” The stated purpose is to use the funds for “culture, combating seasonality and promoting the quality of the Algarve.”
The experience gained from Local Lodging over the years needs to be applied to the Tourist Tax concept. The shift from local statutes to national unity has lead to massive compliance, quadrupling the number of registered “AL” businesses over the past four years. Total registrations now surpass 60,000. Hopefully, the tourist tax concept will eventually embrace country-wide implementation rather than different rules and practices in each of Portugal’s 308 town councils. A comprehensive plan would eliminate local deviations which only create confusion and a sense of unfairness amongst visitors.
If a tourist tax were applied as occurs with “IMI” (Municipal Property Tax), where all municipalities reap the benefits proportionally, leaving tax collection from agents in the hands of the “AT” (Tax Authority), the outcome would increase local revenues while strengthening equity and harmony.
Representatives from eight cities protested against the rules applicable to holiday letting platforms, advocating more transparent regulation. The municipalities of the cities of Barcelona, Madrid, Brussels, Paris, Krakow, Vienna, Reykjavik and Amsterdam subscribed to the declaration sent to the EU Commission. City officials stated that online tourist letting platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com should be obliged to share data with regulators. Currently, these internet booking services permit the anonymity of listing owners of properties as well as of the holidaymakers who let them, exacerbating pressures that the recent invasion of mass tourism places on the infrastructure of these municipalities.