New tourist accommodation law aims to let hostels innovate – government

Page created: Friday, 6 February 2015 8:54 GMT


The government on Thursday approved changes to the rules governing cheaper tourism accommodation, known as ‘alojamento local’ (local lodging), that deliberately do not stipualate the type of building in which hostels may be set up, according to the secretary of state for tourism, Adolfo Mesquita Nunes.

Hostels, he told Lusa after the day’s weekly cabinet meeting, are defined as accommodation in which most beds are in dormitories and which also offer the common areas that are typical of this kind of low-price establishment.

The government, Mesquita Nunes explained, opted “not to interfere in the structure, in the services and in the building of each hostel, letting the creative freedom of their owners act to meet the demand that they have.”

He justified this approach with the competition that Portugal faces from other tourist destinations.

“We must give entrepreneurs the conditions to be able to be always innovating and offering distinctive products,” he said.

According to the secretary of state, the new law aimed at simplifying requirements had already led to the registration of some 6,500 establishments – apartments, villas and hostels – in two months, than had sprung up in six years under the old law, when 5,865 in total were registered.

By simplifying the procedures, the changes “brought more people to the formalisation of the economy than the previous regime, which was more restrictive and demanding.”

The change is in line with other reforms in the sector, Mesquita Nunes noted, whose thrust is towards cutting red tape to stimulate activity and innovation.

Under the new law, anyone who wants to rent out an apartment or house to tourists must only inform the authorities of the fact, without having to set up a company, with no restrictions on the number of units they may put on the market or requirements to provide any specific services.

The new law also foresees the exchange of information between the national tourism institute and the tax office.