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The Government recommends that hostels no longer be classified as Local Lodging (“AL”). The new legislation proposes that this type of offering be registered in the category of “Tourist Development” (“empreendimento turístico”), requiring a more formal licensing process. When the 2008 legislative reform originally introduced this accommodation concept, hostels fell into the loosely defined “Local Lodging” catchall category, rather than within the more tightly regulated “Tourist Development” grouping.
Diverse and sometimes contradictory recommendations are currently under discussion to modify underlying rules governing Local Lodging. In last year’s budget, numerous changes came into effect regarding the taxation of Local Lodging income. In IRC, “AL” income under the Corporate Simplified Regime lost its reduced 0.04 coefficient, rising to 0.35. In IRS, the changes moved in the same direction: under the Simplified Regime for Independent workers, the 0.35 coefficient also applies. Apartments and villas let under in Local Lodging registrations were excluded from the 0.15 coefficient still available to room lets, hostels and holiday offerings registered under the “Tourist Development” classification.
The Secretary of State for Tourism, Ana Mendes Godinho, announced in a parliament hearing on the subject: “I do not agree that many people have been expelled by Local Lodging. Instead, it has served to rehabilitate our inner cities. We have to manage the evolution of Local Lodging in order to ensure that the cities retain their authenticity. This is not only a concern of tourism but for everyone, including guaranteeing the right to housing.”
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.
There are approximately 2,100 Local Lodging Units in Madeira, corresponding to about 8,500 beds. There has been significant growth in this type of holiday offering, with 430 new registrations in just the past five months. Despite its strong position in the local tourist market, Local Lodging is not perceived to be a threat to Madeira hotels which continue to perform better than ever in recent years.
The National Association of Portuguese Municipalities (ANMP) is against most of the proposed changes to present Local Lodging legislation under consideration in the Assembly of the Republic. The ANMP highlights the positive impact of holiday letting on the overall economy of the country in the current moulds.
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.
Prime Minister António Costa declared: “We do not have an excess of Local Lodging. We have a lack of affordable housing.” The Government presented its “New Generation of Housing Policies” (NGPH), which includes various measures to stimulate urban rental and rehabilitation. Beyond contributions from the state, the goal is to create incentives for private individuals to place their properties with an affordable lease.”
More than four out of ten enterprises follow the trend of leisure tourists and choose Local Lodging for company travel, as revealed in a recent study by the Travelstore American Express. The survey shows that businesses are increasingly confident and express willingness to invest more in travel to Portugal over the course of 2018.
60% of the buildings currently used in Local Lodging were previously uninhabited according to a recent study issued by the Portuguese Hotel Association (AHRESP). Only a minority served as long-term leases to locals. The report also concluded that 56% of the “AL” buildings in Northern Portugal were formerly unoccupied. In the centre, the percentage of empty dwellings was 47% and in the Alentejo, 55%. The Algarve, Madeira and the Azores are still under analysis.