Overview of underpinnings of tourism impacts

The case of Lisbon destination

Authored by: Sandra Maria Correia Loureiro , Eduardo Moraes Sarmento , João Ferreira do Rosário

The Routledge Handbook of Tourism Impacts

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  April  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138494961
eBook ISBN: 9781351025102
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781351025102-4

 

Abstract

Positive and negative tourism impacts have been a concern for both academics and destinations’ management. The current chapter intends (1) to provide an overview of underpinnings of tourism impacts and (2) to present the case of Lisbon destination. Tourism in Lisbon has grown in the last decade, and it has become one of the first capital cities in Europe in terms of visitors. In this vein, we describe this evolution and give a characterization of Lisbon as a destination. Finally, the chapter provides managerial recommendations and suggestions for further research.

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Overview of underpinnings of tourism impacts

Introduction

For decades, tourism industry growth has been regarded as an important contribution to economic activity in destinations owing to the new jobs created. Tourism is also associated with the exchange of ideas and culture, which can enrich the local population but can also bring bad habits and behaviors. The increased number of visitors can generate overcrowding, pollution, negative changes in landscape, and impacts on fauna and flora (e.g., Frent, 2016; Ribeiro, Pinto, Silva, & Woosnam, 2017).

Indeed, several destinations worldwide have opened up to, and invested in, tourism, turning it into a key driver of socio-economic progress through the creation of jobs and enterprises, export revenues, and infrastructure development (UNWTO, 2017), as happened in Portugal. Tourism has been boosted in the last two years and, at time of writing, is a major category of international trade in services (UNWTO, 2017). All Portuguese regions have seen increases in revenue, with the emphasis on Alentejo (+28.2% in total revenue and +24.0% in revenue from accommodation), Centro (+20.7% and +22.9%, respectively) and Lisbon (+17.9% and +20.7%, respectively; INE, 2018).

Lisbon has seen a sharp rise in the number of tourists in recent years, and between January and November 2017 more than 5.8 million tourists stayed in Lisbon hospitality infrastructures, a rise of nearly 10% over the same period in 2016 (INE 2018). The majority of tourists come for holidays, but many also visit for business reasons, including business conferences, as shown in the Lisbon’s fifth place in international visitor growth (Global Destination Cities Index Mastercard, 2016). The reasons for this growth are global economic improvements, the unstable situation in North African countries as tourism destinations, and also several tourism prizes and excellent media coverage in recent years.

Recently, Lisbon has been given many awards, such as Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination (World Travel Awards, 2016), Best City Break (World Travel Awards, 2017a), Europe’s Leading Cruise Port (World Travel Awards, 2017b), and Best City of the Year (Wallpaper Design Awards, 2017), with nominations for many more and also several flattering articles in the news such as “Is Lisbon the coolest capital city in Europe?” (CNN, 2017) and similar articles in press all over the world, such as New York Times, Financial Times, Monocle, The Guardian, Global Post, Hola, China Daily, and so on. Events such as Web Summit also place Lisbon as a city to at least visit, because of good work conditions for international start-ups.

All this promotion and evolution in tourism in Lisbon brought economic benefits but also some less positive aspects, because of the tourism pressure on infrastructure, mainly in terms of hospitality, with alojamento local (local accommodation) complaints from older Lisbon citizens in the more historical areas of the city, the growth of foreign residents in the same areas (including famous show-business stars such as Madonna), and also the surge in the numbers of hotels and “tourist shops” replacing Portuguese citizens and traditional Portuguese shops. This is seen by a number of Lisbon citizens as disqualifying Lisbon as a traditional Portuguese city.

In this context, two major questions emerge: (1) What are the major positive and negative tourism impacts? And (2) what is happening in a European city with one of the highest growth rates of tourism, as shown in Table 3.1?

Table 3.1   Tourism lodging capacity in Lisbon: guests in hotel establishments

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2,667

2,841

2,857

2,950

3,087

3,816

4,165

5,288

5,782

6.5%

0.6%

3.3%

4.6%

23.6%

9.1%

27.0%

9.4%

Source: INE, 2017.

Overview of underpinnings of tourism impacts

Past research dedicated to tourism impacts tends to point to three major impacts: economic, environmental, and social (e.g., Djurasevik & Nedelea, 2007; Correia, 2017; Ribeiro et al., 2017). In each category, we can find positive and negative impacts (Frent, 2016; Ribeiro et al., 2017; see Figure 3.1).

Overview of tourism impacts

Figure 3.1   Overview of tourism impacts

Source: Authors’ elaboration.

Many destinations have seen tourism as an economic activity that bring economic benefits – for instance, new business opportunities, new jobs, or tax revenue (e.g., Lindberg & Johnson, 1997; Oosterhaven & Fan, 2006; Dyer, Gursoy, Sharma, & Carter, 2007). Tourism may represent a complementary activity for agriculture, fishing, mining, or culture (Sinclair-Maragh & Gursoy, 2016). The positive economic impact of tourism generates income and new jobs, contributes to raising standards of living, improves public and transport infrastructures (e.g., Látková & Vogt, 2012; Kim, Uysal, & Sirgy, 2013; Woo, Kim, & Uysal, 2015). Local communities may have better material conditions with improved public infrastructure, such as parking, restrooms, water supply, sewers, sidewalks, and lighting. Transport infrastructure includes airports, public transportation, and upgraded roads (Ribeiro et al., 2017).

Notwithstanding the benefits, negative economic consequences also arise, such as price increases, increased use of resources, infrastructure costs, seasonality, and dependence on a single economic sector, creating enclaves or leakages (e.g., Saarinen, 2003; Goeldner & Ritchie, 2009; Zahra, 2013; Pratt, 2015; Sinclair-Maragh & Gursoy, 2016). Owners of tourism businesses often tend to offer low-paying jobs at minimum wage or lower (Kim & Uysal, 2003). The jobs connected to tourism tend to be seasonal (with unemployment in the off-season), with work often done by immigrants. Local entities can increase taxes to maintain facilities and transportation systems. Thus, prices tend to increase for inhabitants and tourists (e.g., food, housing), as well as infrastructure costs, whereas local or national government authorities can reduce investment in other fields (e.g., health or education; see, e.g., Stylidis &Terzidou, 2014).

Tourism is usually associated with seasonality. During the periods where tourism flow decreases, inhabitants – tourism workers – suffer from low income or no income. This situation leads us to another risk – that is, the high risk of tourism investment. Private investors may see this activity involves high investment risks, and banks may be reluctant to fund lodgings, attractions, and other touristic projects. Therefore, destinations should not be economically dependent on tourism; rather, they must complement it with other economic activities (e.g., Frent, 2016; Sinclair-Maragh, 2017).

Some types of tourism can create enclaves (e.g., cruises or resorts). Tourists are confined to a location (e.g., the cruise ship or the accommodation) and tend to do not spend money at the destination (Frent, 2016). The economic benefits are restricted to the enclave and are not experienced in the surroundings.

The environmental category deals with the physical environment of a destination (Archer, Cooper, & Ruhanen, 2005). Destinations with high-value natural resources (e.g., beaches, lakes, mountains), museums, historic buildings, or heritage places are attractive to tourists. Tourism can generate income to preserve such natural places or restore monuments or historical areas, or even improve the visual and aesthetic appearance of a place (Tsai, Wu, Wall, & Linliu, 2016).

Tourism has also a dark side for the environment of a destination. The flow of people at the destination and the use of vehicles for transportation add to air, water, noise, waste, and visual (human crowding and traffic congestion) pollution (e.g., Taylor, 2001; Mason, 2003; Brida, Osti, & Barquet, 2010). In natural and city destinations, tourism can contribute to the destruction of flora and fauna and degradation of landscape, monuments, and historical areas. Likewise, inhabitants can learn to help tourists when disasters occur. The study by Tsai et al. (2016) explains that, in communities regularly exposed to the threats of typhoons and flooding (in Taiwan), residents have a high degree of awareness of tourism impacts. When disasters occur, community members can be prepared to form an effective joint defensive mechanism with local authorities. Members of the community can even help tourists in disaster situations.

Social impact is the third major category. Tourism encourages interactions between residents and tourists (Pelling, 2003). These interactions can benefit residents by providing new opportunities, new ideas, and knowledge that can be the seed for new behaviors. Tourists can push inhabitants to adopt a different moral code. The increased number of attractions, festivals, and cultural offers can improve the quality of life of inhabitants (e.g., Sharpley, 2014; Campo & Turbay, 2015). The change in attitude can have positive aspects by causing the inhabitants to accept the behaviors of other cultures, greater equality between genders, or other physiognomies (Gursoy, Chi, & Dyer, 2010; Nunkoo, Ramkissoon, & Gursoy, 2012; Stylidis & Terzidou, 2014). As Carneiro, Eusébio, and Caldeira (2017) claim, host–tourist social interaction may have a significant influence in all domains of quality of life, particularly relating to positive feelings (e.g., feeling proud to live in the place, feeling good), economic and social opportunities (e.g., job, recreational activities, financial resources, contact with people from different culture), and public facilities and services (e.g., public facilities, mobility, preservation of cultural heritage). Yet, tourists can also influence crime and accident rates (for instance, bringing in new drugs, gambling, alcoholism, or other diseases, or increased traffic heightening the risk of accidents; Deery, Jago, & Fredline, 2012; Stylidis & Terzidou, 2014; García, Vázquez, & Macías, 2015).

Deery et al. (2012) suggest several aspects as negative social impacts, such as overcrowding (the number of people in public areas), reduced numbers of parking places for residents, and traffic congestion. Tourists tend to enjoy the night and consume more alcohol, leading to increases in levels of noise, prostitution, and crime due to bad behavior and drug and alcohol abuse. The relationships and social exchange between groups of inhabitants and tourists can create friction owing to different moral and cultural standards (Lundberg, 2017).

Overview of tourism in Portugal

Portugal had 471,043 beds allocated to tourism in 2016, and, in 2018, the number reached 567,772 beds (PORDATA, 2018). In terms of balance of travel and tourism, in 2010 Portugal had a surplus of €4,648.45 million and, in 2016, it was €8,830.63 million (€12,580.55 million from exports and €3,848.92 million from imports; PORDATA, 2018).

Hotel establishments recorded 1.2 million guests and 3.1 million overnight stays in November 2017. Overnight stays in the internal and external markets accelerated to changing rates of +8.9% and +8.8%, respectively (+5.3% and +6.8% in October; INE, 2018). Total revenue grew by 15.5%, at a slower pace (18.2% in October), amounting to €178.0 million. Revenue from accommodation increased by 17.4% (22.7% in October), totaling €124.9 million (INE, 2018). Total revenue from hotel accommodation activity amounted to €178.0 million, and revenue from accommodation stood at €124.9 million (+15.5% and +17.4%, respectively), which represented a deceleration from the previous month (+18.2% and +22.7%, respectively, in October; INE, 2018).

The total contribution of travel and tourism to employment reached 967,500 jobs in 2017 (20.4% of total employment) and was expected to rise by 4.5% in 2018 to 1,011,500 jobs. By 2028, travel and tourism is forecast to support 1,151,000 jobs (24.9% of total employment), meaning an increase of 1.3% pa over the period (WTTC, 2018; see Figure 3.2).

Total contribution of travel and tourism to employment in Portugal

Figure 3.2   Total contribution of travel and tourism to employment in Portugal

Source: Redrawn data from WTTC (2018)

In terms of visitor exports, which is a key component of the contribution of travel and tourism, Portugal generated €18.1 billion in visitor exports in 2017 and expects, by 2026, to achieve a total amount of €18.9 billion in expenditure, an increase of 2.5% pa (WTTC, 2018; see Figure 3.3).

Foreign visitor exports in Portugal as percentage of total exports

Figure 3.3   Foreign visitor exports in Portugal as percentage of total exports

Source: Redrawn data from WTTC (2018)

Taking into consideration the components of travel and tourism, we can admit that leisure travel spending (both inbound and domestic) was responsible for 85.6% of direct travel and tourism GDP in 2017 (€21 billion) against 14.4% for business travel spending (€3.5 billion; WTTC, 2018). Anyway, leisure travel spending was expected to grow by 4% in 2016 to €18.6 billion, 5.6% in 2018 to €22 billion, and 2.2% pa to €23.2 billion in 2026. On the other hand, business travel spending was expected to grow by 3.5% in 2018 to €3.7 billion and rise by 3.0% pa to €4.9 billion in 2028 (WTTC, 2018; see Table 3.2).

Table 3.2   Estimates and forecasts of tourism activity in Portugal – summary

Portugal

2017

2018

2028

Value

% of total

Growth (%)

Value

% of total

Growth (%)

Total contribution to GDP (US$bn)

38.0

17.3

5.1

50.8

20.5

2.4

Total contribution to employment (thousand jobs)

967.6

20.4

4.5

1.151

24.9

1.3

Visitor exports (US$ bn)

20.6

22.0

6.8

30.0

25.3

3.1

Domestic spending (US$ bn)

7.2

3.3

1.0

8.0

3.2

0.9

Leisure spending (US$ bn)

23.8

5.8

5.6

32.4

7.0

2.6

Business spending (US$ bn)

4.0

1.0

3.5

5.6

1.2

3.0

Capital investment (US$ bn)

3.6

10.2

7.4

5.4

12.5

3.3

Source: WTTC (2018)

Impacts of tourism: the case of Lisbon City

With the growth in numbers of tourists visiting Lisbon, it was expected that some infrastructures would feel the weight of that growth, mainly the transport and accommodation infrastructures. To address these problems, many investments are now being made and will be made in the near future.

Worx – Real Estate Consultants considered in its 2018 Market Review that:

[it] is expected that touristic demand will remain high throughout 2018, sustained by the value for money offered in Portugal, and because of the safety factor, which has become increasingly important for tourists. In 2017, Portugal was voted the third most peaceful country in the world by the Global Peace Index.

(Worx – Real Estate Consultants, 2018, p. 18)

Given this expected growth of tourism demand, what is expected to be done regarding the main infrastructures in the tourism market?

Airport

Humberto Delgado Airport (Lisbon) received nearly 27 million passengers in 2017, an 18.8% rise in traffic compared with 2016. Lisbon Airport is an airport in the middle of the city that has received continuous “upgrades,” including, in August 2007, a second terminal, for domestic and low-cost flights, just to keep up with rising demand. Considering the location, any further structural expansion of the airport is impossible. Because of this, on the 75th anniversary of Lisbon Airport, November 13, 2017, Ana-Aeroportos de Portugal (the Portuguese airport management organization) presented the government with a proposal for more investment in the actual airport, to try to address passenger capacity in Humberto Delgado Airport with

[the] duplication of shipping channels for all Schengen ports in Terminal 1 that do not yet have this facility. But also, the creation of two new non-Schengen boarding gates, or the ongoing installation of automatic lines in the security control, which will significantly increase passenger processing and the quality of the service provided. The planned investment also includes the renovation of the check-in area.

(ANA, 2017)

On the same occasion, the ANA CEO also stated the need for a new airport in Montijo, using Montijo Air Base on the south bank of the Tagus River, an airport that, for now, is called Lisboa+1 Airport. The proposal has been presented to the government, and construction was expected to start by 2019.

Cruise tourism

Like the airport, the port of Lisbon is facing a huge problem with the rising number of passengers. Lisbon is also one of the biggest cruise terminals, with around half a million passengers and more than 300 cruise ships passing through Lisbon’s cruise terminals, reflected in awards such as Europe’s Leading Cruise Destination (World Travel Awards, 2016) and Europe’s Leading Cruise Port (World Travel Awards, 2017a).With three cruise terminals already in Lisbon, Gares Marítima da Rocha Conde de Óbidos, Gare Marítima de Alcântara, and Terminal de Cruzeiros de Santa Apolónia, a new one was open on November 30, 2018, the Terminal de Cruzeiros de Lisboa.

A €77 million investment, the project provides a building with 13,800 square meters on three floors and capacity for 800,000 passengers per year, which represents an increase of 300,000 over the current total of the three terminals that already existed. The dock of the new terminal has 1,490 meters of pier for multi-length ships, with a draft up to 12 meters. The terminal allows the maximum boarding and disembarkation of 4,500 passengers, with parking for 360 vehicles and 80 tour buses or taxis, a panoramic terrace, and free Internet. A 2017 survey of Observatório de Turismo de Lisboa showed that each cruise passenger spends around €50 in Lisbon, with total revenues of nearly €30 million for the year.

In 2018, the national ports registered the passage of more than 1.3 million tourists on cruises and 947 stopovers, an increase compared with 2017 of 5% and 10%, respectively, and a new record. Of the six Portuguese port stops (Leixões, Lisbon, Setúbal, Portimão, Azores, and Madeira), all showed a positive increase in passengers embarking and disembarking. Lisbon was the one that added more stops, registering a movement of 330 cruise ships (APL, 2019). In 2018, the port of Lisbon achieved another record when the number of cruise passengers reached 577,603, 11% more than in 2017. The Port of Lisbon received 123 ships that made 339 stopovers, 3% more than in 2017.

The year 2018 was also a success for the turnaround segment that continued to grow significantly and became one of the best ever for the port of Lisbon. The year 2018 was notable for the 12th Seatrade Cruise Med conference in Lisbon, which had the biggest attendance ever and is one of the largest cruise fairs in the world.

And, last but not least, the port of Lisbon was awarded, for the third consecutive year and the fourth time, the prize of the best cruise port in Europe by the World Travel Awards.

Accommodation

All these tourists traveling to visit Lisbon naturally have an impact on accommodation infrastructure and business. The figures regarding the number of hotels and occupation have risen in recent years to adapt to the rising number of tourists visiting Portugal (more than 20 million in 2017), with Lisbon Metropolitan Area (18 municipalities including Lisbon, north and south of the Tagus River) reaching more than 6 million guest stays in 2017 (INE, 2018). These guests stay around two days, usually on city breaks, with the exact average length of stay declining marginally in the past few years, maybe because tourists who visit Portugal are more likely to also visit the rest of the country.

Nevertheless, even with this slowdown, total revenues in hotel establishments are rising (Figure 3.4) because the number of guests and the average revenue from available bedrooms are rising.

Total revenues in hotel establishments (Lisbon Metropolitan Area)

Figure 3.4   Total revenues in hotel establishments (Lisbon Metropolitan Area)

Source: INE (2018)

The total revenues include not only the room price, but also revenues from all other hotel services. There is a rise in the room revenues as a percentage of total hotel revenues, meaning that revenues from all other services beside the room itself are falling.

Considering visitors by country, nationwide, we can see that Portugal for many years has had more tourists from Britain and Spain, with a growing importance of “Other Countries” that include China and Russia (Figure 3.5).

Evolution of tourists (sleeping nights) by country of origin

Figure 3.5   Evolution of tourists (sleeping nights) by country of origin

Source: INE (2018)

In 2017, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and Germany still represented 50% of all visitors, and there is expected to be a negative impact from Brexit, with the return of travel borders between Portugal and the United Kingdom.

Number of hotels

With all the growth dynamics in the sector, Lisbon has also seen growth in the number of hotels, mainly four-star hotels (Figure 3.6). By 2017, 44 new hotels had opened in Portugal, nearly a quarter of them in Lisbon, and mainly four-star hotels (Figure 3.6). The year 2017 also saw 80 new hotel projects in the country, an increase from the 50 new hotel projects submitted in 2016 (Worx – Real Estate Consultants, 2018). This was a 60% increase, following an increase of 47% between 2015 and 2016. Thus, between 2015 and 2017, in mainland Portugal, there were 164 new hotel projects. As expected,

[T]he temporal dynamics show that hotel investment has increasingly moved out of Lisbon, dispersing geographically to less central markets. In fact, 60% of the growth in the number of new portfolio projects observed in 2017 took place in the non-metropolitan regions.

(Ricardo Guimarães, director of Confidencial Imobiliário, ECO, 2018a)
Evolution of the number of hotels in Lisbon

Figure 3.6   Evolution of the number of hotels in Lisbon

Source: INE (2018)

In Lisbon, the new hotels were made from scratch but also from old buildings, with most of the original architecture – mainly the building façade – being kept. The building of new hotels from traditional Lisbon buildings has been subject to negative comments and opposition from Lisbon citizens and some political parties that want to preserve traditional Lisbon, without defacing it with an excess of tourists and hotels, losing the traditional Lisbon soul.

One of examples is the now abandoned DN building in Avenida da Liberdade, which was the office of one of the older Portuguese newspapers, Diário de Notícias, founded in 1864. It is expected to be transformed into a hotel or deluxe apartments that, even if the main structure is retained, will be at odds with the feelings of many Lisbon citizens.

Local accommodation

Regarding local accommodation, Lisbon has seen a big increase in all its neighborhoods, putting pressure on the local population that pays low rents, with landlords trying to dump residents from their apartments so that they can let them later at much higher prices as local accommodation; this also leads to local inhabitants complaining about “too many tourists in my neighborhood,” even if a recent study (AHRESP, 2017, p. 40) showed that “the neighborhood’s opinion on local accommodation is overall positive (32%), with parking and cleaning being pointed out as improving.”

A recent study from the Institute of Planning and Development of Tourism (IPDT, 2018) showed rising tourist pressures on the city. Lisbon has more tourists per inhabitant (nine) than cities such as London (four) or Barcelona (five), with more than 4.5 million tourists visiting in 2017, a density of 300 tourists per square kilometer. This pressure, with local population complaints rising about the increased numbers of tourists visiting Lisbon, led the city council of Lisbon to initiate regulation measures for local accommodation.

As ECO (2018b) reports, local accommodation started with a city council study to analyze the maximum local accommodation capacity per city zone, a new local accommodation regulation office, and local accommodation quotas in each city zone, including the more vulnerable and traditional historic zones. There will also be a distinction made between “local housing” (the concept of home sharing) and “housing tourism” (houses are used 100% for tourism), with more restrictions in the latter case, because it is considered a hotel service, and the opening of a local accommodation offer will need authorization from the city council.

But what is the economic profile of the local accommodation in Lisbon? An Association of Hospitality, Restaurant and Related Services of Portugal study (AHRESP, 2017), Valorization and Qualification of Local Accommodation in the Lisbon Region, produced by ISCTE-IUL Marketing FutureCast Lab and Sítios – Serviços, Informação e Turismo, shed some light on this somewhat recent sector, using 2016 data. In 2016, this subsector employed more than 5,700 people, and 13,400 indirectly, accounting for 1% of the GDP of the metropolitan area of Lisbon (€285.9 million) and representing 18.6% of total tourist income in the area, with an indirect impact from tourist spending in Lisbon of €549.6 million, a daily average of €70 spent on food, leisure and entertainment, travel, and tourist attractions.

Considering the properties, the clear majority (86%) are apartments – nearly 7,000 in 2016, almost double the number in 2015, followed by housing (6.5%) and lodging establishments (5.6%). Lisbon local accommodation accounts for nearly 55,000 guests, a rise of 75% on 2015.

Although the news sometimes showed complaints of older citizens being pressed by landlords to leave their apartments that later will be let to tourists, 59% of the local accommodation properties were vacant before, and 13% were used for own housing, but, in 19% of cases, properties went from rentals to housing to local accommodation.

The opportunities most cited by local accommodation owners are tourism demand from foreigners (85%), positive perceptions about Portugal (59%), and the demand for a personalized service (42%); considering their clients, the French (47%) and Spanish (28%) represent three-quarters of demand, with 45% being couples and 50% aged below 40 years.

With regard to the factors considered by guests when they choose local accommodation, the property location (72%) and other guests’ comments (68%) are the main motivations. They also value the support of the host (69%), and half of them also consider the property’s decor. Public transportation is the preferred means of transport for guests of local accommodation.

The occupancy rates are mainly 50–70% in low season and 70–90% in high season, with bookmarking made mainly with Booking.com (45%), followed by Airbnb, and with direct reservations at about 9%. Local accommodation promotion is made through Facebook by almost all respondents (98%), with a significant number (78%) advertising on standby platforms to attract customers.

Conclusions

This chapter contributes an overview of the economic, environmental, and social impacts of tourism as they have emerged in the literature. We also characterize and analyze a particular destination – Lisbon – experiencing growth in the number of tourists and the consequent impacts.

In this vein, considering the social and economic impacts of the growth of tourism in Lisbon, we can conclude that it has very positive aspects such as the growth of tourism-related jobs (including in the 45–66 age group), the growth of direct and indirect tourism revenues, and also the current or near-future improvements of infrastructure, such as the cruise port, airport upgrade, creation of a second airport for the city, and new accommodation units (mainly four-star hotels).Yet there are also some less positive impacts, which start to show their effects on the local population and even led to the first city countermeasures to try to minimize them.

The growth in the number of Lisbon hotels – some of them built on older buildings that were appreciated by the older, more traditional local population – the proliferation of local accommodation services, and the larger number of tourists throughout the year (and not only in summer, as was usual some years ago) in older and traditional city neighborhoods cause some pressure and discomfort for some population segments, which do not usually have great protest capacities, but which local or national government try to help if needed. Some of the older inhabitants are seeing their home rental contracts cancelled, because is more lucrative to let the same apartments to tourists. There is a wave of real-estate speculation in the city, with a rise in the cost of renting apartments.

When we look at the environmental impacts, Lisbon – as a destination – has faced increases in air pollution and the debris generated by the increase in people.

In the end, in Lisbon, we have:

  • Infrastructure improvement;
  • Rise of economic activity;
  • Rise of tourism-related jobs;
  • Boom in real estate and renting.

But these come with:

  • Pressure on the quality of life in Lisbon, as citizens are living in locations crowded by tourists;
  • Threats of home rental cancellation for the older citizens with cheap rents.

What can be done from here? While trying not to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs (economic activity and jobs related to Lisbon tourism), hospitality sector self-regulation measures and policy measures can be considered to try to mitigate pressures from tourism and real-estate and rent speculation, which have a negative impact on some Lisbon areas.

Moreover, deeper research must be carried out to analyze the positive and negative impacts of tourism on Lisbon (and other Portuguese cities), to ensure that appropriate measures are taken without pressure from local populations or the media.

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