Legislative and policy efforts to control the growth of local accommodation as a mean to prevent cultural identity loss

Paula Almeida, Célio Gonçalo Marques, Eunice Ramos Lopes, Rodrigo Nicolau Almeida


This study seeks to fill the epistemological gap regarding the legislative and regulatory means of managing local accommodation, as it relates to the cultural identity of cities and parts of cities in Portugal. We presume such a cultural identity to be a complex entity which is built in part in negotiation with the tourist, but one that is currently being done on an imbalanced relationship. This study is conducted from a law studies point of view, seeking to draw conclusions from recent touristic trends especially in the cities of Porto and Lisbon.

As a way to stimulate entrepreneurship in the tourism sector, local accommodation was recently constructed as juridical concept in Portuguese law, creating a separate regimen from traditional touristic establishments such as hotels, rural tourism and camping places. This also created the possibility to institutionalize a number of informal situations which operated in these cities (especially in light of the Governmental Decree nº39/2008, March 7th, which extinguished the legal background of businesses as pensions and motels), allowing these to continue their activity - preventing the economic impact which their closing would bring.

The specific law which was implemented- Governmental Decree nº128/2014, August 29th, with the news brought by Decree nº63/2015 created some dangers which have been at times posed to municipal institutions: the risk of ‘desertification’ of the center by local citizens, rent pressure, social polarization, amongst other risks.

With such an appealing legal structure, which made local accommodation a viable opportunity not only for homeowners but also property developers – which also brings urban regeneration – one has to wonder what sort of policing and regulation is made on these spaces. Noting that this function belongs to ASAE (health and regulations police), whose contingent and power has been reduced, can one truly delegate to a national organism a localized factor such as this? Or ought we to look at community or private enterprise options for this task?


Cultural Identity, Gentrification, Local Accomodation, Touristification

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