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Local Lodging operators who opt to be assessed under the tax rules of Category F (long-term rentals) may deduct commissions from this income paid to online reservation platforms. However, those carrying out their tourist business under Category B as Sole Traders do not deduct specific expenses but rather are automatically allotted 65% from their gross “AL” income to cover operating expenses.
An increasing number of accommodations under Local Lodging (“AL”) are in the hands of third-party administration. In Lisbon and Porto, only 4 out of every 10 units registered in this tourist activity are handled directly by the owner.
The ink is barely dry on changes to the Local Lodging regime and the ruling Socialist Party is moving forward with proposed amendments in the next year’s State Budget. According to the contemplated update, Local Lodging units should have a minimum coverage of €75,000 a year per claim. The recently approved legislation is vague concerning the amount of liability insurance required.
In Portugal, there are ±1.1 million second residences, according to National Statistics Institute data, comprising 80% of “AL” offerings. These dwellings have a low utilisation rate: less than 30 days a year. When engaged in Local Lodging, the average yield per owner is €11,000 euros. Lisbon and Porto tell a different story. In these two urban areas, “AL” is driven primarily by investment properties, not second residences, and foreign buyers.
Local Lodging “has not been a problem for the Algarve. It’s being very positive for the economy and urban regeneration,” according to Faro mayor, Rogério Bacalhau. The Algarve’s municipalities have no plans to create quotas or “containment zones” for Local Lodging, a possibility opened by recent legislative reforms. The Algarve concentrates the majority of “AL” accommodations in Portugal, far outweighing Lisbon and Porto combined.
Since the approval of the legislation amending the rules for Local Lodging, 836 new units have been opened in Lisbon and 297 in Porto. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has already signed the bill which should be published soon, coming into force 60 days after.
A new study by HomeAway reveals why Portuguese nationals prefer using Local Lodging for their vacations. For 79.5% of the respondents, choosing an “AL” accommodation is based on the possibility to prepare meals, thus making significant savings in the overall holiday budget. 70.2% of respondents prefer the scheduling flexibility and the ability to plan their vacation days without rigid time restrictions. In turn, 65% indicate that they can enjoy more space for leisure activities. 51.5% of holidaymakers appreciate the privacy and tranquility (as compared to 37.2% in hotels).
Local Lodging accommodated one third of visitors to Portugal in 2017, an annualised increase of almost 29%, according to ALEP (Association of Local Lodging in Portugal). As of July 2018, there are currently more than 72,000 Local Lodging establishments registered nationwide.
According to the National Statistics Institute (INE)*, Portugal received 3.4 million Local Lodging guests in 2017 (+29%), and 8 million overnight stays (+26.7%), generating €263 million in total revenues (+27.6%). The number of overnight stays increased in all regions, most significantly in the Center (+42.3%), Greater Lisbon (+31.4%), Madeira (+22.5%) and the North (+25.2%). The average Local Lodging stay was 2.35 nights (-1.6%), with longer stays in Madeira (4.80 nights), Algarve (3.23 nights) and Lisbon (2.37 nights). Germany was the tourist largest market (+27.4%), followed by the French, British and Spanish (+22.3%, +20.9% and +31.5%, respectively). There were also significant increases from Poland (+79.8%), the United States (+64.8%) and Brazil (+54.6%).
* INE only counts “AL” offerings with more than 10 beds. Following this criteria, there were only 2,663 “AL” establishments in Portugal in 2017. According to the Ministry of Tourism, “AL” registrations currently total over 85,000. While the INE numbers may be inaccurate, these statistics can still prove useful on a relative basis.
A study carried out by the movement “Oporto is not for sale” reveals that, among the 6,198 Local Lodging registrations in Portugal’s second largest city, 51.3% are enrolled by companies. The leading company holds 70 properties while there are 84 “AL” enterprises exceeding the legal limit of 7 registrations.