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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.
Several new regulations mandated in the latest Local Lodging review permit a two-year abeyance in enforcement to existing units where an “AL” activity has already been approved. This extended implementation period applies in the following situations:
- Condominium charges can increase by up to 30% when justified by collective encroachment;
- Multi-risk insurance and liability coverage is required for all Local Lodging operators;
- The entrance to a Local Lodging unit must have an “AL” identification plaque;
- Expenses for construction work carried out in common areas to adapt or license a property under “AL” are to be borne by the owner of the Local Lodging unit.
Other alterations to legal requirements in the most recent legislation come into effect in early October (two months following ratification).
Recent legislative reforms have created tighter rules for operators of Local Lodging establishments. Under the new regulations, Councils will have a say in setting occupancy quotas within their municipalities. Condominiums can launch complaints regarding “AL” based disturbances and misuse in their buildings. (more…)
Upcoming legislation, designed to regulate Local Lodging, is likely to include measures intended to counteract the “Disneyfication” of historic city centres. According to the current Socialist Party proposals, the imposition of quotas on a selective basis is “an admissible model” that should give a “relevant role to municipalities”. Since 2012, “AL” registrations have skyrocketed nationally from 7,533 to 58,252, a more than 7-fold jump. The increase in Lisbon during this period has been over 400%, primarily in the historic neighbourhoods.