Hotel Or Private Apartment? A New Battle In the Tourism Sector

21/08/2014 – Expansion

Some time ago, hotel chains ran a campaign against their Internet rivals who challenged the traditional business scheme and started to directly connect the webs´users and home owners who wanted to rent their property for a holiday stay. Hotel owners claim many of such service providers do not pay taxes and they are not registered as companies, encouraging the illegal jobs and offering no security for their users.

The Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism, Jose Manuel Soria, responded to the accusations calling the recent regulation on hoilday accommodations ´clear´ and he assured: ´in no way will it constitute a competition to hotel establishments´. In July, Spanish hotel association Cehat enunciated the new firms are a ´serious problem´ for the sector which ´is not trying to forbid home rentals´ but it aims at ´setting equal rules for all players´.

Cehat´s president Juan Molas says ´non-regulated rentals are crippling our business´ as, according to statistics, ´28 million foreigners visited Spain in the first half of 2014. Around 5.4 million stayed at their family´s or friends´. It seems highly unlikely so many tourists have relatives or friends in Spain´, he doubts.

Another non-matching piece in the puzzle is that although the tourist flow grew stronger, in June overnight hotel stays decreased in such key regions as the Balearic Islands and Catalonia.

The problem arises when the Government passes a law top-down but the legal power stays in hands of the Spanish regions. And each of them opted for their own criteria without seeking harmony with the rest.

For instance, the Community of Madrid accepts this kind of home renting on condition that the stay is not shorter than five days. ´Average stay in a Madrid hotel is equal to 2.5 nights so the regulation cannot be applied to the traditional hotel offer. They are different clients´, explain sources from the aforementioned Ministry.

At present, the most advanced legislation is found in Catalonia, where the web sites must provide each dwelling with a licence in order.

In turn, the Andalusian law prohibits apartment renting unless the landlord owns at least three flats for rent in the same building or housing estate. Finally, the Balearic Islands are the most restrictive, not allowing to rent to holiday-makers at all.

The hotel association claims the municipalities are the ones that should see closely to the fraudulent rentals as they issue the business licences. However, cities want to have nothing to do with the case.


Original article: Expansión (by Yago González)

Translation: AURA REE