HomeHotelThe three conditions to regulate tourist rentals in Spain

The three conditions to regulate tourist rentals in Spain

Catalonia has approved a Decree Law on accommodation for tourist use that has generated great controversy. Hoteliers support the new regulation, but the Catalan Federation of Tourist Apartments has filed an appeal in the Constitutional Court. For their part, the municipalities pressed for the decree law to give more freedom to local entities and to be able to establish their own limits. At the Fitur fair we were able to chat with Pere Granados, mayor of Salou.

Pere Granados, mayor of Salou, at the Fitur stand. Source: Hosteltur.

Tourist rental

What do you think about tourist rentals, a phenomenon that has grown and is generating much debate? Hoteliers, for example, say that rent is to blame for many evils…

I believe we are in a free market economy. Competition is positive because it makes everyone have to improve themselves in what they offer, to make it more attractive. The tourist apartment is not a problem, it cannot be limited in the market economy. What has to be done is regular. And that regulation has to be determined by several conditions.

What conditions?

First. Who has to decide how many apartments and where they are located has to be, first of all, the local public administration. Local autonomy must be defended.

Second. You have to regulate the activity. In the same way that a person wants to open a hair salon or a store and has to meet a series of requirements, because here just getting a license is not enough. You have a license, as it has to have a series of characteristics. That is what the autonomous community has to regulate.

And third. It should be the communities of owners themselves who decide whether or not they want to have an apartment or flat for tourist use in their block.

Do you think that in general we are focusing the tourist rental debate wrong?

Let’s see, are we in a market economy or are we seeking protectionism to defend one sector to the detriment of the other? In any case, I insist that the municipality is the legitimate entity, based on local municipal autonomy, to decide where and how many apartments it can have.

I’ll give you another example. There are small municipalities that do not have hotel offerings, but they want to have tourist activity and the only opportunity they have is through tourist apartments. We in Catalonia have defended municipal autonomy, it is something that has been perfectly understood and that decree that came out will be modified to respect this situation.

With all those small municipalities that have a tourist economy, but do not have hotel infrastructure, what do we do with them? Do we destroy your economy? Thus, market freedom for everyone. Or if we want protectionism, then let’s not complain about the public administration intervening for good or bad.

So, should municipalities be the ones who have the final decision in tourist rentals?

I defend local autonomy to decide what we want to be, for that is what our citizens vote for us. And furthermore, the City Council is an administration that is much closer to the people and knows reality better than any other councilor who is in his or her office. We know what the day-to-day problems of our own municipality are. And hey, market freedom. Let’s regulate, yes, so that there is a good quality offer of tourist apartments.

Look, when you attack the tourist apartment you are attacking a tourist model.

What does it mean?

I’ll give an example. There are families who do not want to have breakfast, lunch or dinner with 400 other people in a dining room. They want to have their own privacy. And there are source markets that tend more towards apartments, for example French tourists. The hotel only offers privacy when you get into the room and go to sleep. We must value all this, we cannot end the rental model.

And another issue, if we look at the spending of tourists who choose an apartment, 70% of their budget goes to spending at the destination. For tourists who go to a hotel, however, that percentage is reduced to 50%.

In short, in the debate on tourist rentals we must begin to evaluate all these figures. You have to know the reality.


Transformations in Salou

What has Salou presented at Fitur this year?

The day before Fitur, on the 23rd, we did a presentation of Salou. We show a destination that you can come to visit every day of the year because we develop all the axes of the tourism product that go beyond the summer months. For example, gastronomy, culture, natural heritage, historical heritage or sports, this last segment helps us a lot for deseasonalization.

What does this natural heritage consist of?

We have recovered the entire coastline of Salou and created the Coastal Path, with more than 40 viewpoints, with spectacular views along a 9-kilometer course, where there are more than 25 beaches and coves with extraordinary beauty. It is a tour to enjoy all year round.

Salou has also undertaken an urban transformation strategy, what are they looking for with this?

We are removing vehicles from the urban center. The idea is to create more spaces that pedestrians can enjoy. This serves to deconcentrate visitor flows. With this we gain two things: the streets and squares become much more decongested and we generate a much higher quality of life for the resident and also for those who visit us, because there is much more public space to enjoy.

I imagine that decongesting public spaces is going to be increasingly important at a time when tourist arrivals continue to rise…

Yes, it is expected that there will be more tourists. But we no longer talk about seasons, but rather we talk about the entire year. In 2023, for example, we have exceeded the number of visitors compared to 2019, that is, we have exceeded two million tourists, with the particularity that arrivals do not grow in the peak season, but at the extremes. In other words, the summer tourism model is successful, it is family tourism, and, on the other hand, promoting health beyond the summer is working very well.

Furthermore, if we talk about tourist spending, we see that in 2022 the figures grew by 40% compared to 2019. And in 2023, tourists have spent 30% more than in 2022. Spending grows every month, but in the off-season months the growth has been even greater. In short, we are very well prepared to be able to deseasonalize.

So has Salou been able to recover from the loss of Russian tourism?

The Russian tourist who came to Salou was for a long stay. The number of total visitors has been exceeded in the destination, although we still need to recover the same volume of overnight stays as in 2019, although we are very close to achieving it. In any case, we are looking for new segments of tourists who can travel throughout the year and also new markets. Now we have set our sights on Korea and we are going to carry out promotional actions for Salou in that country.


Related news:
– Tourist homes: keys to a serene debate that is missing in Spain
– City councils will limit the number of tourist homes in Andalusia
– Vacation rental boom. What do hoteliers say?
– Federatur takes housing for tourist use to the Constitutional Court

Source: Hosteltur

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