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Spanish short-term rentals boom has tourist sector clamouring for rules

Economy Nov 22, 2022 12:17PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tourists take pictures of Puerta del Sol square as storm Celia blew sand from the Sahara desert over Madrid, Spain, March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Susana Vera

MADRID (Reuters) - Short-term accommodation in Spain's 20 biggest cities is rapidly catching up with the number of rooms managed by hotels, a study released on Tuesday found, prompting hoteliers to call for better regulation of their upstart rivals.

Spanish travel industry association Exceltur said that about 300,000 homes are offered for short-term rental in the country's 20 largest cities, with some 389,779 rooms managed by hotels.

Exceltur, which groups together major Spanish hotel chains, travel agents, tour operators and airlines, is lobbying for a new law to regulate short-term rental platforms such as such as Airbnb, describing the situation as "out of control".

Airbnb said this month it had recorded a "disproportionate" 31% rise in single-room listings on its platform in the third quarter, attributing it to more homeowners seeking extra income amid a cost-of-living crisis.

Renting to tourists is twice as profitable as offering long-term rentals to residents, the Exceltur study showed. In Spain, short-term rentals are also cheaper, on average, than hotels.

In at least six major cities, the number of short-term rentals, most of them located in city centres, offered as an alternative to hotels grew by 34.5% in the 12 months to September, the study commissioned by Exceltur found.

EQUAL TERMS

At least six out of 10 homes in downtown Seville are available to tourists through short-term rental platforms, the survey said, while in the heart of Madrid about a third of homes near the historic Puerta del Sol are rented out for short stays.

Meanwhile, the number of hotels rooms available in places like Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga or Seville has grown at a pace of just 2% per year since 2010, the study said.

"We all have to play on equal terms," said Gabriel Escarrer, who heads Exceltur and serves as Chief Executive of Spain's biggest hotel group, Melia. "These properties have to meet certain requirements in order to be marketed."

These include forcing platforms to verify that individual hosts are properly registered as tourist accommodation providers, with official permission to operate.

The European Commission has already proposed draft legislation that would make online rental platforms provide data such as the number of customers using their services and how many nights they stay to national authorities, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Spanish short-term rentals boom has tourist sector clamouring for rules
 

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