By ELOISE WALTON [email protected]
Legislation governing tourist accommodation is still needlessly complicated and bureaucratic despite measures to simplify it, according to Macário Correia, President of the Algarve Câmaras Association (AMAL) and Faro Câmara.
An example of this, he says, is the current need for all businesses involved in tourist accommodation to be re-classified by the end of the year, as part of the national tourism accommodation licensing process.
“There is still a lot of bureaucracy and things can be very complicated,” said Macário Correia during the first of a series of monthly themed debates organised by the regional tourism board held at Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo in Faro on February 25.
“For the licensing of tourist accommodation, for example, the Câmaras are responsible for the structure and location. However, a qualified doctor must certify health and safety details such as the tiling on the floor. This should be unnecessary, because what does a doctor have to do with floor tiles?”
Many members of the audience, which included owners of tourist accommodation businesses, also criticised the new legislation, which has rules that they viewed as unnecessary and makes licensing difficult for smaller businesses during this time of economic crisis.
However, Jorge Umbelino, from the national tourism board, said that the new legislation is much easier to understand and apply, leading to licenses being issued quicker.
“The laws now mean that around 80 per cent of all smaller tourism projects are approved straight away without suffering alterations or amendments,” he said.
Meanwhile, shortfalls in the new legislation were highlighted by Filipe Meirinho from ASAE, the national food and economic standards authority, who showed that although the new legislation has clear rules and is easy to interpret, it is still hard for the authorities to police illegal holiday rentals.
“We don’t go around knocking on doors in every urbanisation asking people if they are renting their homes illegally,” he said.
Portuguese authorities are, however, making headway in catching those who make money from illegal rentals by checking on holiday websites, newspapers and other places where holiday rentals are advertised.
For further information about how new legislation could affect the licensing of your tourist accommodation business, please visit your local Câmara.
The next debate organised by the regional tourism board, which is due to be held in Portuguese, subject to confirmation, on March 25 at the regional tourism board headquarters in Faro, is entitled ‘Algarve, 40 years as a touristic region – what future?’
In April, the debate will focus on e-marketing strategies, followed by a debate on the tendencies of tourist consumers in May.
The final debate in June will focus on the role of golf as a tourist product.
For more information about upcoming debates, please contact the regional tourism board on 289 800 510 or email [email protected]