Portugal has become the latest European country to regulate short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb, in an attempt to control overtourism in its popular cities.
Starting in July 2023, no new permits will be granted for short-term rentals in the historic centers of Lisbon, Porto, and other major tourist hotspots. Existing permits will be honored, but no new licenses will be issued, according to the government’s new rules.
The decision comes as the Portuguese government tries to balance the needs of tourists and residents. In recent years, the rise of Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms has been a major contributing factor to the increase in property prices and the decrease in available rental units in the country’s main cities.
Many residents have complained about the disruption to their neighborhoods caused by an influx of tourists and the rapid proliferation of short-term rentals. The new rules aim to address these concerns by limiting the number of tourist accommodations available in popular areas.
Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism, Rita Marques, said the aim was to “combat the negative effects of tourism” and to “preserve the authenticity of the country’s cities and neighborhoods.”
The move follows similar actions taken by other popular tourist destinations in Europe, including Barcelona, Berlin, and Paris, which have implemented measures to limit the number of short-term rentals in their city centers. Critics of these regulations argue that they limit the freedom of property owners to rent out their homes and could have negative economic consequences for the tourism industry.
Airbnb has responded positively to Portugal’s new rules, stating that it supports “clear, fair and proportionate rules” that “allow home sharing to thrive while addressing concerns about sustainable tourism.”
Portugal is one of Europe’s fastest-growing tourism markets, attracting over 13 million visitors in 2019. The country’s tourism industry is a significant contributor to the national economy, accounting for approximately 15% of Portugal’s GDP.
While the new regulations may have an impact on Airbnb and other vacation rental platforms, they may also lead to a renewed focus on traditional hotels and other forms of accommodation. The move may also encourage tourists to explore less popular areas of the country, which could benefit local businesses and help to spread the economic benefits of tourism more evenly across the country.
Portugal’s new rules represent a significant shift in the country’s approach to tourism and could have far-reaching consequences for the future of the industry in the country.