Spain’s short-term rental boom pushes tourism sector to demand rules

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MADRID — Short-term accommodation in Spain’s 20 biggest cities is rapidly catching up with the number of rooms managed by hotels, according to a study published on Tuesday, prompting hoteliers to demand better regulation of their upstart rivals.

Spain’s travel industry association Exceltur said around 300,000 accommodations are available for short-term rental in the country’s 20 largest cities, with some 389,779 hotel-managed rooms.

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Exceltur, which brings together major Spanish hotel chains, travel agents, tour operators and airlines, is pushing for a new law to regulate short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb, calling the situation “out of whack”. control”.

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Airbnb said this month it saw a “disproportionate” 31% increase in listings for single rooms on its platform in the third quarter, attributing it to more landlords looking for extra income amid the economic crisis. Cost of life.

Renting to tourists is twice as profitable as offering long-term rentals to residents, the Exceltur study showed. In Spain, short-term rentals are also cheaper, on average, than hotels.

In at least six major cities, the number of short-term rentals, mostly located in city centers, offered as alternatives to hotels rose 34.5% in the 12 months to September, according to the study commissioned by Exceltur.

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At least six out of 10 homes in downtown Seville are available to tourists through short-term rental platforms, according to the survey, while in the heart of Madrid around a third of homes close to historic Puerta del Sol are rented for short stays.

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Meanwhile, the number of hotel rooms available in places like Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Malaga or Seville has grown at a rate of just 2% per year since 2010, according to the study.

“We all have to play on a level playing field,” said Gabriel Escarrer, who runs Exceltur and is chief executive of Spain’s biggest hotel group, Melia. “These properties must meet certain requirements to be marketed.”

These include requiring platforms to verify that individual hosts are properly registered as tourist accommodation providers, with official authorization to operate.

The European Commission has already proposed a bill that would require online rental platforms to provide data such as the number of customers using their services and the number of nights spent to national authorities, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. . (Reporting by Corina Pons; Editing by David Latona and Alexander Smith)

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