sábado, junho 22, 2024

WSJ on Portugal - Come and stay awhile! Venham mais 5!

 Thank you for the WSJ article on tourism in Portugal.  

Hope to see you in Portugal this year!  Come and stay awhile! 

It's true, tourism is generally a cyclical industry, labor-intensive and requiring relatively low skills.  But tourism can still promote a lot of development.  
Tourists come to Portugal not just to go the beach, but especially to enjoy the easy-going hospitality of the Portuguese people, the good food and the relative security.  
While some tourists spend most of the time on the beach and drinking in bars (with sunburns and hangovers to show for it), other visitors enjoy getting familiar with the history and culture of Portugal.  

The impact of tourism has been mostly positive in my view.  The offer of B&B lodging has promoted the restoration of city and town centers which were in ruins, in port because of rent controls lasting dating back to 1910. For every rental housing property that was converted into short-term accommodation, 1-2 property  that were empty or in ruins have been restored, which is a major improvement.  Higher interest rates have complicated the housing market, but EURO interest rates were negative for nearly 8 years, at least 7 years too many.  Tourists do tend to concentrate in major cities like Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Algarve, and so do both recent and old residents. 

We need for everybody to "go local" to spread wider into the Interior of Portugal where there a lot of empty houses.  Even so, there are still many buildings in city and town centers waiting to be rehabilitated. 

In my view, and that of some other analysts,  the rise in rental prices has more to do with the inflexibility of the housing market and with delays in the municipal licencing of restoration and construction projects,  a problem of supply, rather than with excess of demand from tourists and incoming migrants. I recently tried,  and failed, to find information on the quantity of housing restored with ARU incentives (for the rehabilitation of urban centers).  Housing promotion programs are more visible in the newspaper headlines than on the city streets. 

That said, all that goes too high, too fast is likely to come down.  
Housing supply and wages both need to rise.  Tourism is part of the solution, it is not a big part of the problem. 

When I drive around the towns and villages, I like to count the cranes and construction sites. 
But I still see far too many houses in ruins, abandoned or just shuttered.  
If there is anything that Portugal really needs is more people!  

Venham mais 5! 

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