Lisbon mayor signals AirBnB policy shift in UK newspaper article

 In News, Real Estate, Tourism

Lisbon City Council is to shift its priority away from AirBnB towards affordable homes in a bid to attract Portuguese professional and working class families back into the city centre.

In an article published in the UK’s Independent newspaper over the weekend, Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina writes that the post-Covid priorities for the capital city will be to turn AirBnB accommodation into Homes for essential workers.
“Like many other cities, we are re-evaluating our post-pandemic priorities,” says Fernando Medina in an opinion article.
The mayor says that a third of the city centre is taken up with holiday rentals. As mayor of Lisbon he wants to bring those who are the lifeblood of the economy back to the city centre which will be made greener.
“Lisbon has benefitted enormously in recent years from the millions of tourists who throng our cobbled streets and enjoy our world-famous restaurants and bars, but we’ve paid a social price,” the mayor admits.
“Essential workers and their families have been increasingly forced out as AirBnB-style holiday rentals have taken over a third of Lisbon’s city centre properties, pushing up rental prices, hollowing out communities and threatening its unique character,” he says.
Now a new strategy presented by Medina is to prioritise affordable accommodation for health, transport and teaching professionals and others in essential services.
The idea is that the Council will rent properties from landlords and them sub-let them to the population in a plan which Medina himself calls “bold” and which will give the council an opportunity to transform Lisbon into a more lived-in, vibrant, healthy and fairer city.
“From Melbourne to Paris the tide is turning against urban expansion and is returning to revitalised urban centres where residents can get important services such as doctors, schools and shops within 20 minutes walking distance from their homes,” says the mayor.
Fernando Medina says that Lisbon has been welcoming 4 million visitors a year but the reality is that the 500,000 residents are be overloaded by mass tourism with the solution now being one of turning AirBnBs into “secure accommodation”.
In addition to pointing out that home prices have skyrocketed in recent years, the mayor says that the council is working with private companies to refurbish some rundown buildings in the city centre.
Nevertheless, Medina makes it clear that the council’s policy does not mean that Lisbon does not want tourism. On the contrary, he hopes that tourists return as soon as possible.