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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.
Airbnb announced that, since 01 May 2016, it has already delivered almost five million euros to the City de Lisbon from the collection of levies on holidaymakers. To date in 2017, the amount collected has been €3,100,000. Airbnb is the only internet hosting platform to collect the Tourist Tax (one euro per night per person) on behalf of the Lisbon City Council.
Vancouver, CA has passed new regulations banning homeowners from renting out certain kinds of property on short-term rental platforms like Airbnb as part of an attempt to cope with a shortage of long-term rentals. Owners may still rent out room individually or let their principle residence on a temporary basis when on holiday. The city will charge an annual licensing fee of C$49 (€32.80).
Following similar moves in London and Amsterdam, the holiday letting firm announced that hosts in four key Parisian neighbourhoods will only be able to rent out their entire homes for no more than 120 nights per year starting in 2018. The restrictions will bring Airbnb into line with current local regulations. Paris is the platform’s largest city based on listings.
Over the past 12 months, Airbnb has removed 1,036 Barcelona-based local lodging units from its website. The measure was mandated by the city of Barcelona which considered that the units were being commercialised illegally. According to figures from the municipality, 15% of illegal lets are placed on Airbnb by tenants and not by the property owner.
ASAE inspectors are now searching ads of existing listings on online platforms such as Booking.com, Airbnb or Home Away to verify their Local Lodging registrations. As of 01 July, those advertising holiday lets on online platforms are required to display their “AL” registration licence number. It is currently estimated that approximately 20% of offerings are illegal. Failure to comply can lead to heavy fines for internet platforms and unlisted local lodging operators.
The online hosting platform generated €1.07 billion in Portugal last year, almost half in Lisbon. Airbnb said that this figure accounts for “all the money that Airbnb guests spend during their stay as well as the amounts that hosts with ads on the platform earn in their hosting activity.”