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Palma Plans To End Vacation Rentals

Palma has long been a major tourist destination, but residents say they want better regulation. The Spanish resort town of Palma on Mallorca wants to ban homeowners from renting their apartments to travelers, making it the first place in Spain to introduce such a measure.

The restrictions follow complaints from residents about rising rents due to short-term rentals through websites and apps.

The mayor of Palma says the ban, due to be introduced in July, will be a model for cities suffering from mass tourism.

But business groups say many families will be financially affected.

It was not immediately clear whether the ban was limited only to private homes advertised by their owners on apps or websites.

Houses and chalets are exempt from the restrictions unless they are located in protected areas, at the airport or in industrial areas.
What is behind the decision?

Palma, like many other cities around the world, is experiencing an increase in visitor numbers, driven in part by private vacation rentals offered through websites and apps.

Officials from the local left-wing governing coalition cited a study suggesting that the number of unlicensed apartments offered to tourists increased by 50% between 2015 and 2017.

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, only 645 of 11,000 holiday rentals offered to tourists in Palma have the required license.

“Tourists go home”: Leftists defend themselves against the influx from Spain

Locally, there is anger over tourism driving up prices – rents in Palma are said to have risen 40% since 2013 – but also over deteriorating conditions in neighborhoods popular with travelers due to noise and poor behavior .

“Palma is a determined and courageous city,” said Mayor Antoni Noguera.

“We agreed on this [ban] based on the general interest of the city and we believe it will set the trend for other cities as they see the importance of finding a balance.”

José Hila, the head of urban planning in Palma, said: “There is a parallel between the development of holiday apartments and the increase in rental prices.

“All European cities will be transformed overnight by this type of offer. We need some order. There will be a holiday apartment in Palma, but only where it needs to be.”

Last year, Palma banned advertising for unlicensed apartments, including hefty fines for owners and apps that break the rules. Barcelona has taken similar measures.

Last year, 82 million foreign tourists visited Spain, with Catalonia and the Balearic Islands – including Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera – the main destinations.
What was the reaction?

Joan Forteza, president of the Association of Neighborhood Associations of Palma, welcomed the announcement, which followed a petition with more than 6,000 signatures, reports the newspaper Diario de Mallorca (in Spanish).

But Pimeco, a local organization representing small businesses, said vacation rentals had “stimulated” consumption and were an “important source of income” for many homeowners.

The holiday rental association Habtur said not only the owners were affected, but also restaurants and shops and warned that jobs could be lost.

Continue to Vacation Rental Part 1