Lisbon is at it, to be followed soon by Oporto and Cascais but the Algarve’s mayors remain divided over imposing a per night Tourist Tax that has just seen the capital's council receive a cheque from Airbnb for €1.74 million.
An inevitably terse Airbnb spokesman said today that "As part of the agreement that Airbnb signed with Lisbon City Council regarding the collection of a tourist tax of €1 per night from May 2016 until the end of last year, Airbnb has delivered €1.74 million."
The US-owned, web-based business reveals that "the Portuguese capital continues receive the biggest increase in Airbnb guests, with a total of 718,000 travelers in 2016, a growth of 66% over the previous year."
This is nothing when compared with Oporto where the rise was 92% over 2015, a total of 293,000 travelers who used Airbnb registered accommodation, staying an average 3.4 nights.
At the national level, Airbnb’s business is booming with its Portuguese advertisers receiving "a record number of 1,650,000 guests" from around the world, a growth of 84% over 2015.”
As for the income per property, the returns are less impressive with the average Airbnb advertiser earning €3,350 per year by renting out space which is occupied, on average, just 39 nights a year.
In Lisbon, there were a 77,000 Airbnb advertisers last year, in Oporto the number was around 28,000 and according to Airbnb Portugal’s Ricardo Macieira, the business continues to grow and clearly represents "a new economic engine that is helping to grow and diversify tourism in Portugal."
Overall, the Lisbon Tourist Tax earned the council €13.5 million without its councillors lifting a finger. Most of this sum came from hotels, €9 million, followed by AL registered overnight stays, €2.8 million, with Airbnb coughing up €1.7 million.
Cascais council starts its own version of the tax this February and the mayor, Rui Moreira, in Oporto has proposed a €2 per night tax, but not until after the autumn council elections.
In the Algarve both the tourist board and the hoteliers’ association are against the tourist tax, arguing that the provision of tourist services at attractive prices is hard enough as it is, without the added burden of administering yet another levy on the success of the reguion's hotel and accommodation sectors.
The Algarve mayor’s association, AMAL, so far has not reached an agreement on the tax but with Lisbon receiving €13.5 million in year one, for doing nothing, it may not be long before greed gets the better of the mayors and this effortless tax is imposed.
As for the prime minister, he is all for the tax as he was mayor of Lisbon when the per night levy was introduced to the capital's accommodation providers.