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The average cost of Local Lodging in Porto approached the values registered in Lisbon – approximately €100 euros per night – according to recent data calculated and released by Confidencial Imobiliário. In 2017, there was a 30% gap between the 2 cities. According to the index, the highest average daily rate was recorded in Lisbon in the Chiado-Bairro Alto district (€138).
Lisbon will increase the Municipal Tourist Tax in 2019, from one to two euros per night, to strengthen urban cleaning and transportation in neighbourhoods with more pressure from tourism. Initially approved in 2014, the Municipal Tourist Tax began to be applied in January 2016 on the overnight stays in the hotel units or local accommodation, then set at one euro per night up to a maximum of seven euros.
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.
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.
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.
In June of 2018, 68,310 Local Lodging registrations exist as compared to 23,136 in 2015, an increase of almost 300% in three years. Over the same period, tax revenues have more than doubled. 73% of “AL” accommodations are outside Lisbon and Porto, with over a third in the Algarve.
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.
Last year, 152,000 homes were sold in Portugal, an increment of 25%. French and Brazilian are the foreigners who are buying more properties. The jump in demand also led to a substantial increase in prices: Lisbon up 37%, Oporto 29%, Madeira 24% and the Algarve 18%.
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.
There are establishments designated as Local Lodging with standard residential housing permits but which are in reality “genuine hotels”. According to Urbanism Councilman Manuel Salgado, “giving residential housing and Local Lodging the same licensing status is detrimental to the city.” “Real Local Lodging is when the owner lives at home, sharing with holidaymakers. This form of tourist accommodation deserves protection”, stated the Lisbon alderman.