“Everyone from carpenters and plumbers to laundry businesses depend on the sector”
Hundreds of people gathered outside the BTL tourism fair in Lisbon on Wednesday in protest against the government’s changes to the Local Lodging (Alojamento Local, or AL) short-term rentals scheme.
The protest was organised by Carla Reis, the creator of the ALesclarecimentos (AL clarifications) page on Facebook.
Speaking to reporters at the protest, Carla Reis warned that the government’s measures could leave thousands of people unemployed.
“At the moment, I have nine employees, we all work in the Alojamento Local sector, our lives and our jobs depend on it,” she said, adding that everyone from carpenters and plumbers to laundry businesses depend on the sector.
According to Carla Reis, around 50,000 families make their living off the AL sector, including many “small entrepreneurs” and people with one apartment who depend on the money they make to pay off their loans.
“Enough of using AL as a scapegoat for housing problems”
The president of the Alojamento Local em Portugal association was also in attendance, having called for the sector to stop being used as a “scapegoat” for the country’s housing crisis.
Eduardo Miranda believes the government’s measures are “disproportionate and irresponsible” and will lead to the ‘death of the sector’.
One of the key changes proposed is to stop allowing any new AL licences, unless in rural areas of the interior where they will help the local economy – and reviewing all licences in 2030, and every five years thereafter.
“Behind AL, there are people and jobs. These measures will kill a sector which today represents 42% of tourism,” Miranda said, adding that he hopes the government will reconsider its stance.
“We expect the government to think about this better. Enough of using AL as a scapegoat for housing problems,” he added.
Former Algarve MP and the current president of PSD Algarve, Cristóvão Norte, also attended the protest and said that the government’s “desire to eradicate AL” is not new, having already made attempts in 2016 and 2018.
“Measures will only push owners back to the black economy”
He also accused the government of ignoring “AL’s vital contribution to the recovery of the economy, job creation and urban rehabilitation” and gave the examples of Quarteira, Praia da Rocha and Armação de Pêra, where houses used to be rented out informally (so-called “parallel beds”) before the introduction of the AL regime.
“Now many of them are registered, providing gains for tourism and the region. The government’s measures will only push them back to the black economy,” he said.