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Newer forms of tourist accommodations to be regulated under Catalan Government decree

The Catalan Government has presented a decree, pending approval "in the coming months," that will regulate up to eight types of tourist accommodations, including new types that until now were not contemplated by the law, like motorhome areas, casual Bed & Breakfasts and informal rentals. The decree is an effort to quell the rapid expansion of tourist accommodations in newer platforms – like the Internet service Airbnb – and bring already-existing establishments under control.  The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, said all establishments must be registered. For Bed&Breakfasts and Airbnb rentals (or similar platforms) its users must pay a tourist tax of 0.65€ in Barcelona and 0.45€ in the rest of Catalonia. In addition, the City Councils will determine which areas can be used for placement of accommodations.

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15 July 2015 09:29 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN) – The Catalan Government has presented a decree, pending approval "in the coming months," that will regulate up to eight types of tourist accommodations, including new types that until now were not contemplated by the law, like motorhome areas, casual Bed & Breakfasts and informal rentals. The decree is an effort to quell the rapid expansion of tourist accommodations in newer platforms – like the Internet service Airbnb – and bring already-existing establishments under control.  The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, said all establishments must be registered (with the City Council or the Catalan Government). For Bed&Breakfasts and Airbnb rentals (or similar platforms) its users must pay a tourist tax of 0.65€ in Barcelona and 0.45€ in the rest of Catalonia. In addition, the City Councils will determine which areas can be used for placement of accommodations.


The Catalan Minister for Business and Employment, Felip Puig, said the intention of the future decree is to ensure "quality tourist offerings" and to work "against the black market" and against "indefensible consumer situations." The Minister informed the Catalan Government of the content of the regulations during the weekly Cabinet meeting, held on Tuesday.

This decree also comes amidst protests and unrest coming from local residents from some specific neighbourhoods, who are frustrated with the boom of tourist housing, claiming that unregulated, illegal accommodations threaten the cultural fabric of their communities and bring too many loud tourists. The Barcelona City Council already implemented a one-year ban on licenses for new tourist accommodations earlier this month in an effort to manage the sector's recent exponential growth in the Catalan capital. In the meantime, the Catalan Government's decree hopes to regulate the accommodations that are already in operation, especially those marketed in newer online platforms.

Technology platforms, like Airbnb, that put users and owners in direct contact will "be subject to the touristic regulation," said Puig. Under the decree, they will not be able to offer illegal tourist accommodations and will have to clearly show the registration number of any homes sold in each posting, explained the Minister. According to the new law on administrative simplification, these tourist establishments will not need to ask for a license to operate, but rather it will be sufficient to register with the Catalan Government or the Town Hall and start generating tax revenue.  

The new regulation will define that any property marketed or promoted by way of an Internet tourism promoter, not just Airbnb, is consider touristic, regardless of how long rooms are available. In addition, the city councils will be able to request that the owner of the residence inform the neighbours of the tourist accommodation's opening prior to operation

New specifications on accommodation management and location

Another change in existing modes of tourist accommodation is that property owners of hotels or tourist apartments would be allowed to freehold condominiums in these establishments. That is, if until now the property housing a hotel or apartments belonged to a single owner, that owner will be able to sell shares – individual rooms, apartments or studios – in a horizontal property regime.

Tourist lodgings are new establishments included in the decree. These establishments serve as temporary tourist housing in multiple-capacity dormitories. Hostels are classified into a unique category and the accommodations' conditions of service must all include daily cleaning of the common facilities and lodging units, included in the price.

Puig also revealed that town halls will determine which urban areas will be allowed to have any type of tourist establishments, including tourist houses or rooms. In the same way, from now on they can choose which non-urban areas can hold campsites.

Other changes include the equalization of motorhomes and bungalows and increasing the percentage of fixed elements allowed on a campsite from 40% to 50%. Also, campsites and mobile home areas will be categorised with stars – similar to the system implemented in hotels – with ratings ranging from two to five stars (the areas for motorhomes will receive one star).

Finally, as reported by the Catalan Government, the decree defines motorhome areas as specifically demarcated areas, open to the public for exclusive use by motorhomes in transit in exchange for a fee. These areas do not support fixed elements like bungalows or modules and allow a maximum stay of 48 hours. It is an infrastructure in high demand, especially from tourists travelling by road from Northern and Central Europe and Italy.

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  • A caption of Airbnb's portal (by Airbnb / ACN)

  • A caption of Airbnb's portal (by Airbnb / ACN)