Dozens of small local accommodation AL owners in Porto against Government measures

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Several dozen small local accommodation owners demonstrated today in Porto against, above all, the power granted by the Government to condominiums to dissolve their businesses, warning of the risks it can bring to tourism.

With Praça D. João I occupied with 304 blue bags, where words related to tourism and complaints were read in several languages, small entrepreneurs sought to reach residents and tourists, denouncing the Government measures that, they consider, affect their activity.

Ana Sofia Rego, one of the owners present, summarized the meaning of the protest: “we are protesting against the measures that will end the work we have built”.

He continued: “During the crisis between 2008 and 2011, I was out of work. I gathered everything I had, with the help of my parents and my in-laws, and recovered a fraction that had been empty for more than 20 years in the center of Porto, thus creating my own job”.

“Each of these 304 work bags symbolizes 200 families who, like me, depend on their small local accommodation business”, said the co-promoter of the protest, explaining that the number 200 stems from “a study by the Local Accommodation Association of Portugal, which concluded that there are about 60 thousand families in Portugal to depend directly on their local accommodation business”.

The words on the bags are written in Portuguese, English, German and Spanish because, he continued, “this villainization of small local accommodation holders is not having the media echo at international level that it should have and that should shame the Government for what it is doing to small entrepreneurs”.

Detailing the measures of his dissatisfaction, he began with the ‘Medina tax’, which he considered prohibitive.

“If I happen to be an emigrant who has a house here, who uses it during the summer, during the holidays, when he comes to visit his family and, during the rest of the year, I want to have it well maintained and even have some extra income, or not, as long as it is registered in local accommodation, I will have to pay a blind rate,” he said.

Another measure “is the condominium tax, in which the Government, instead of having a conciliatory and social peace action, no, it is creating an environment of hostility, in which the condominium owners, just because yes, out of prejudice and without any kind of complaint, can meet and decide to close the local accommodation”, continued the protester.

This issue intersects with “the issue of term licenses (…) because being registered and legal the licenses will lose their validity until 2030”, because with the “power” granted to condominiums “the horizon can be reduced to two or three months”, he added.

In this context, Ana Sofia Rego warned “the major operators in the sector, not only of local accommodation, but of tourism” to “come forward and denounce this great injustice”.

“It is frustrating to hear the Government say that there are 76,000 families looking for a home and, coincidentally, there are 76,000 local accommodation registrations. This demonstrates a complete ignorance of reality, both in terms of housing needs and the impact of small entrepreneurs on the local economy “, he criticized.

Luís Baltar began the conversation with PP with another alert, that “it is important to draw attention that contrary to what is tried to be passed, that accommodation is associated with large groups and large companies that monopolize, what is behind this are small families that have one, two, three apartments and that, many of them, live exclusively from this business”.

“In my case, my wife lives 100% from this. She has two apartments where she does all the work, from cleaning to check-in and platform management,” he said.

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