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.
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.
Recent changes in legislation broaden social protection benefits for sole traders in the eventualities of illness, unemployment and parenthood. The waiting period for subsidised medical leave reduces from 30 to 10 days. The eligibility period for unemployment benefits decreases. Maternity and paternity entitlements have also been enhanced for freelancers.
The coalition partner, Left Block (“Bloco Esquerda”), will soon propose to the General Assembly to do away with the Golden Visa Programme. They consider the immigration shortcut to be a source of corruption, influence peddling, embezzlement, money laundering, tax and criminal offences and unfair discrimination between those who have money and those who don’t.
Brazilian entrepreneurs tainted by the corruption scandal, “Lava-Jato”, along with relatives of a prominent Angolan politician, accused of crooked operations, successfully “bought” access into Europe through the Portuguese Golden Visa programme. This immigration shortcut allows those who invest at least €500,000 in property in Portugal to obtain immediate permanent residency, leading to EU citizenship after five years.
In theory, even though a tourist endeavour (“empreendimento turístico”) may be exempt from Municipal Property Transfer Tax (“IMT”), the benefit is rarely realised. This is due to the fact that most proposed projects acquire property long before the completion of the required bureaucratic process. In practice, the purchase appears as a routine acquisition, thus failing to qualify for the exclusion.
In 2018, the Government plans to launch, under the framework of the Simplex+2018, a new “citizen card” for foreigners residing in Portugal, which will group in a single document identification numbers for tax (“NIF”), Social Security and the National Health System (“SNS”). According to the Secretary of State, with this new card, the delivery to the foreign citizen of all these identification numbers will happen simultaneously at the same place of issuance, cutting significantly the time and effort required.
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.
Marriott International and Hostmaker announced a collaboration to introduce a new holiday home rental undertaking under Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio Homes brand. This venture marks Marriott’s first step into the home-share market, nine years after Brian Chesky founded Airbnb and disrupted the travel industry. The move comes at a time when Airbnb is attempting to step out of its “alternative travel” image, introducing concepts like Airbnb Plus that offer a more curated travel experience. Meanwhile, other traditional hospitality companies like AccorHotels and Hyatt have also launched similar endeavours.
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.