In the period between 2010 and 2019, the conversion of homes into tourist accommodation has doubled the offer in the 22 Spanish cities analyzed by the report on the competitiveness of urban destinations that Exceltur presented this week.
But the phenomenon is not homogeneous nor does it have the same effects in different cities. In two of them, Alicante and Málaga, this trend is so pronounced that the number of tourist beds in homes doubles that in hotels. Alicante has 8,730 beds in hotels and 17,132 in homes; in Malaga, the ratio is 13,028 to 28,239.
No other city even comes close to that ratio. In Valencia, Gijón, Córdoba or Las Palmas de Gran Canaria there are also more beds in homes than in hotels, but the difference is not so pronounced: around 50% in Las Palmas (6,509 to 9,654) and Gijón (4,480 to 6,262). , close to 30% in Valencia (19,210 in hotels, 24,989 in homes), even lower in Córdoba.
In Seville, Granada and Murcia, both modalities share the market equally, while in the rest the share of hotels is still much higher. The destinations that concentrate the most travelers, Madrid and Barcelona, maintain a similar proportion in favor of traditional establishments: 9 hotel beds for every 5.7 in flats in the capital of Spain and from 8.4 to 5.1 in the City count. And Palma de Mallorca, which has six times more hotel beds than Alicante, offers six thousand fewer beds in its homes.
In the analysis of the phenomenon, the Exceltur experts point out that "the most desirable future points to the need to transition to a model where investment in renewal of this offer and a qualification of the demand prevail, to continue growing in tourist income, without a greater burden on destinations".
And they ask themselves: "Do we want the future to be marked by single houses or rooms with prices per person per day of 27 euros or new or renovated regulated accommodation that aspires to rates that multiply by five those of the houses, positioning themselves in the channels to attract higher-spending national and international tourism?
Regarding the transport model, the authors of the report also question some of the bets that Malaga and Alicante have in common. "Do we want to continue promoting low cost companies as the main means of air connection and now also by rail? Are cruises the best option for coastal destinations?" they point out.
One of the challenges of urban destinations is to make their tourism development compatible with the city model and citizen coexistence of the local society. The study affirms that "facing this challenge implies assuming the concept of carrying capacity, of the existence of limits in the reception of visitors from each neighbourhood, of taking advantage of the new digital opportunities to identify the most socioeconomically profitable tourist niches and to better manage in real-time tourist flows on the most iconic resources, improving the experience perceived by visitors and social value".
In the opinion of the editors of the report, "these objectives will not be achieved without recovering adequate urban planning and control of the provision of tourist accommodation, which the conversion of homes into tourist accommodation and their indiscriminate marketing through online platforms made airborne from 2010, doubling the tourist load in the cities".
As a consequence of the pandemic, and given the collapse in tourist demand, in many cities there was a transfer of homes that were marketed as tourist accommodation to the residential market, either through their sale on the market, or through the rental of long stay. As a consequence of the entry of these homes, "purchase prices were temporarily reduced."
But, always according to the Urbantur 2022 report, prices "are recovering strongly again due to the sudden, massive and uncontrolled return of homes to the tourist market. This demonstrates the unjustified perversion that the conversion of homes into tourist accommodation was not affecting access to housing in city centers, defended partisan by the platforms dedicated to the online tourist rental business and many of its operators".
Exceltur points out that "cities and their administrations have the opportunity so that this reality is not reversed when the tourist market fully recovers, trying to make this return of homes to their original function permanent, such as satisfying long-term residence stays in the cities. However, "it is a reality on which a level of action is not perceived to be up to the challenge, nor is it even debated in the main Spanish cities, when the speed of the return of tourist homes is being dizzying".