Madrid imposes restrictions on Airbnb to facilitate mass tourism
The new regulations are a response to residents fearful of being billed outside their own neighborhoods.
Madrid is a popular tourist destination, drawing crowds of visitors.
Courtesy of DANI POZO / AFP / Getty Images
The rules proposed in Madrid will prevent apartments from being rented to tourists for more than 90 days a year – and entire buildings will no longer be able to be just visitor accommodation, unless the building is approved as a hotel.
Different restrictions will apply depending on the area of the city in which the apartments are located. Unsurprisingly, the more central you are, the more the rules will be in place.
City council hit back at Airbnbs in the city center.
Courtesy of Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Stringer / Getty Images
Airbnbs in the central zone will need a designated entrance on the street, independent of the entrance used by permanent residents of the building.
This would eliminate the majority of apartments currently used as vacation rentals in the city and mark a drastic change for the city.
The city reports that 23 times more tourists sleep in the central district of Madrid than in the 20 other districts of Madrid combined.
Room without view
Meanwhile, in Valencia on Spain’s southeast coast, authorities have proposed new restrictions limiting private vacation rentals above the first floor.
The result? More rooms with a view. Instead of having panoramic views of the Mediterranean, you are more likely to have a view of parked cars.
In Ciutat Vella, the historic old town of Valencia, no new rentals will be allowed.
Madrid is one of the most popular destinations in Europe.
Courtesy of Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno / Getty Images
Earlier this year, Mallorca’s capital Palma effectively banned apartments used as private vacation rentals.
“It is part of the solution to local housing problems in cities and helps put tourism dollars in the pockets of local families – not just wealthy hotel groups.”
Airbnb remains adamant that “Airbnb has no significant impact on accommodation in Madrid”.
Palma, Mallorca, has banned apartments used as private vacation rentals.
JAIME REINA / AFP / AFP / Getty Images
The company said it intends to continue having “positive conversations” with Madrid and Valencia about Airbnb’s future in those destinations.
Problem in progress
The issue of overtourism extends beyond Airbnb.
Temporary regulations were introduced to handle pedestrian and river traffic, redirecting crowds of locals.
Citizens and tourists of Venice go through turnstiles on the weekend of May 1, limiting tourist crowds.
ANDREA PATTARO / AFP / AFP / Getty Images
Traveler Faye Richards visited Venice this holiday weekend.
“In the center [the crowding] was really bad, “she told CNN Travel.” Especially in the very narrow streets you had to walk so slowly behind everyone. “
Richards and his group joined long lines for St Mark’s Campanile and the Basilica in St Mark’s Square. While waiting for a boat to travel from the Venetian island of Murano to Burano, their line stretched from the ferry terminal to a plaza, dominating the local landscape.
Venice can be quieter at night, when the crowds have calmed down.
Courtesy of Faye Richards
“But if you were further from the center there were a lot of quiet areas and it was super cool. Plus the crowds didn’t last very long into the night so the night was nice to explore.”
Richards says she didn’t feel like she had been taken away from the premises, but that wasn’t necessarily a good thing.
“My overall impression of Venice was that there were literally no locals,” she says. “They all live outside, I’m sure. It’s all for tourism.”
Advocates say the best way to tackle the problem of mass tourism is to encourage open dialogue.
Advocates say the best way to tackle the problem of mass tourism is to listen to locals, vacationers and officials – to encourage open dialogue.
“Airbnb has been a bit of a poisonous chalice for many tourist destinations around the world,” he says.
“At first, it seemed like a promising tool to empower local people – by opening up the accommodation market, creating pockets of opportunity in communities and spreading the benefits far beyond just the big hotel companies.
“It was built as a disruptive business, but I don’t think we ever imagined it would be as disruptive to the locals as it turned out to be.”
Francis praises the decision to listen to residents of Valencia and Madrid – and pleads for a new approach, based on communication.
“If there is to be a responsible future for tourism in these cities, we need to end the ‘growth at all costs’ mentality and start measuring the success of tourism through the use of other indicators that are based much more firmly on the benefits to local communities.