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Porto city council approved today a tourist tax of two euros per night for all guests over the age of 13 beginning 01 March 2018. In announcing the new levy, Mayor Rui Moreira said that, in order to ensure Porto’s place as a sustainable tourist destination, holidaymakers must participate in the running costs of the municipality, given the wear and tear inherent in the tourist footprint.
Lisbon was the fifth most popular destination for European holidaymakers in 2017, registering a 17% jump when compared to the year before. Porto came in ninth place, 12% above 2016. Registering a 24% increase, London was the first choice for European tourists, followed by Barcelona, Mallorca and Paris.
The Left Block, a partner in the governing coalition, proposes changes to current Local Lodging legislation. Under the soon-to-be recommended plan, holiday letting not exceeding 90 days per year should continue to benefit from the current tax regime. Year-round operation – without a limit of days and designated as “tourist accommodation” (Habitação turística) – must be equated with a hotel activity and assessed on the same basis.
The creation of a Porto Municipal Tourist Tax, which might reach two euros per night, is designed to solve housing problems and omits improvements in the tourism sector, claims the Hospitality Association of Portugal. The City Council explained, “the proceeds of this levy are to be applied in projects aimed at promoting housing for the middle and lower middle class in the historic centre to accelerate the repopulation and curb pressures from real estate development.
Innovation in the regulation of local lodging has made Portugal a case study. Short term holiday letting is an integral part of the current Portuguese tourism boom. Dilapidated heritage districts in Lisbon and Oporto have a new lease on life with private investment driving much needed restoration. As with any phenomenon of rapid and disorderly growth, distortions have emerged. But this should not be a pretext to kill the chicken that lays the golden egg.
Living in Lisbon is increasingly expensive. The tourist boom in recent years has triggered rental price hikes in the country’s capital. The latest study reveals that apartment leases rose 23% in 2016, to an average of €830 per month. In the Chiado district, purchase costs average €6,700 per square metre.
The mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, announced his intention to introduce a Tourist Tax in the city of Porto “to alleviate the tourist footprint in the city” and “to buy real estate that the municipality does not want used for tourism.”