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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.
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.
Porto’s Municipal Tourist Tax only began to be applied in April 2018, but the results from the first three months of collection point to annual revenues 50% above initial estimates. By the end of the year, the municipality currently expects to raise over €9,000,000.
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.
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.
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.
Based on the number of overnight stays last year (6.8 million) to be charged at 2 euros per night per person, the total anticipated revenue for the municipality is expected to reach 13 million euros. The city is preparing the process of applying the new tourist tax and anticipates implementing the new levy in January next year.
Cascais began charging a Tourist Tax of €1.00 per night as of 01 February 2017. The City Council estimates a minimum first year income of €1.2 million. Initially the proposed charge was to be €1.50, but the final levy was set at €1.00 per night, up to a maximum of five nights.
Lisbon, the city that pioneered the levy in Portugal, charges 1 euro on each night in the capital. The assessment brought more than 11 million euros to Lisbon in just 10 months. Vila Real de Santo António and Cascais are set to follow the example in 2017. Porto also contemplates launching a Tourist Tax but only as of 2018. Aveiro attempted to implement the measure in 2013, but a year later, suspended the fee.
The Municipality of Cascais will begin charging a tourist tax as of February 1st. All overnight stays in hotels, hostels and local lodging establishments will be subject to the charge of one euro per night, up to a maximum of five euros per stay.