A study of the UMA commissioned by the City Council puts the city behind only New York, London and Barcelona
The city of Marbella has the largest number of tourist homes in the province of Malaga, with prices located among the four highest markets on the planet, but its irruption in the tourism industry has not yet helped to reduce seasonality. These are some of the conclusions reached by a report prepared by the University of Malaga (UMA) on behalf of the City Council. The objective of the study is to know the repercussions of this relatively new phenomenon in the city and to study possible measures by the local administration that avoid negative repercussions both in the tourist market and in the coexistence of citizens.
The ‘Study of the impact of housing for tourism purposes in Marbella’ (Estudio del impacto de las viviendas con fines turísticos en Marbella), totalling more than 130 pages, points out that so-called ‘collaborative tourism’ is a long-lasting phenomenon that represents an important challenge for those responsible for tourism management.They must voluntarily act before the government steps in to regulate illegal tourism rentals, an intrusive measure which could create a loss of competitiveness.
The report highlights the need for planners to make the city’s tourist accommodations compatible with a sustainable urban model. Despite the magnitude and relevance acquired by tourist rental housing, there are few rigorous studies, as well as information and available data.
Available Tourist Units
Marbella has the most tourist units available in the province of Malaga, with 4,077 homes, 11,000 rooms and 23,452 seats, which is 15 percent of the provincial total ahead of Malaga, which has 19,000 seats that represent 11 percent of the total. Marbella ranks fifth in the total number of units, behind Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Valencia.
Most availability is located in the western district of Nueva Andalucia, which includes Puerto Banus, and where urbanizations, villas and chalets abound, with 1,408 homes and 7,955 spaces. In second place appears the eastern sector of Las Chapas, at the other end of the city, with 1,012 homes and 5,915 spaces. Marballa’s urban center, which includes Casco Antiguo, has the fewest available units, only 227 homes and 1,147 places.
This distribution of units, highlights the UMA study, differentiates two areas, one with a large volume of units in Nueva Andalucía (33.99%), the eastern sector of Las Chapas (25.27%) and Marbella West (17, 72%), versus another area that has fewer units, such as the urban center (4.90%), western sector of Las Chapas (8.39%) and San Pedro Alcántara (8.66%).
The houses with less accommodation capacity are concentrated in the urban centers and the larger ones, in urbanizations.
The report indicates that more than half of the homes used for tourism are registered by foreign residents and almost a third by Spaniards. The rest belong to limited companies (10%) and foreign entities (4%), which means around 15 percent are exploited professionally by companies. 92 percent of the owners register a single house and 6%, two.
Registration of homes for tourism in Marbella has seen spectacular growth over the last two years, 40x the number of homes registered previously, a situation that the report explains are typical of a destination-city where tourist homes previously operated without being subject to government regulation. «It would not be surprising that in the next few years, once the initial enrollment boom is over, its number will not grow at the same rate,» the study warns.
Another feature of Marbella’s tourism rental market is that almost all homes are rented completely, versus 7% is for private room rentals or shared accommodations.
The report highlights that since October 2016, the number of active homes in Marbella on Airbnb presents a growing trend, with the highest inter-monthly growth rates in the summer. The number of units presents a seasonal component, with peaks of demand in the summer months, the same way as it happens to other types of accommodation.
In 2017, 48% (almost 3,000 homes) on Airbnb were available for rent between one and three months; 27% (more than 1,600) were available between four and six months, and 25% could be rented for more than six months.
From these figures, underlines the work of the UMA, it is clear that the holiday rental market in Marbella is very seasonal, with almost half of all accommodations available only between one and three months of the year.
Likewise, the time that the houses were reserved throughout the last year characterizes a seasonal demand, since 77% of houses were reserved for a period of between one and three months; 17% between four and six months and only 6% more than six months.
Marbella is next to Palma de Mallorca, the Spanish city where the availability of this type of accommodation throughout the year is smaller (25%), a figure much lower than the availability in the capitals. Homes for tourism purposes, according to the report, do not contribute to combating seasonality. On the contrary, it is a seasonal offer whose highest activity index coincides with the summer season.
Seasonality has a direct impact on the price. According to the study, the average daily price of homes for tourism purposes in Marbella is 150 euros per home per day, which places it as the fourth city in the world with the highest price per night, just behind New York (159.03 euros), London (157.32) and Barcelona (155.61); and ahead of Los Angeles (138.51).
The data collected in the report reflects a marked seasonality of price, with a curve similar to the one that marks availability and in the same line as that registered by the hotel sector. The highest prices are located in the district of Marbella West, versus the lowest prices in San Pedro Alcántara.
More than half of owners are foreign residents who rent them only in summer
The study indicates that of the total number of overnight stays that were registered in Marbella during the past year (5.5 million), the hotel sector registered 51% of stays, versus 21% of stays at houses used for tourism purposes, ahead of the apartments (18%) and camping (10%).
The report compares the number of tourist houses to hotel beds and concludes that both Malaga and Marbella have the highest proportion, one hotel room for every two tourist homes, which is much higher than the rest of the Spanish cities. In places per inhabitant, Marbella also obtains the highest value, 21 per hundred.
Although the number of tourists using these accommodations is relatively low, 89,044 in 2017, their average stay is higher than the average, with 13.03 days. Last year, there were 1,160,277 total overnight stays. Foreign tourists are the majority compared to Spanish nationals. Most come from London, Stockholm, Paris and Dublin, with Madrid being the Spanish one.
Tourists expended almost 79 million euros in 2017, an average of 885, 44 euros per person and trip. The average expenditure made by a tourist housed in a rental home grew by more than 10 percent in 2017 compared to the previous year despite a decrease in the average stay. Although this type of accommodation represents only 6.8 percent of overnight stays, it represents 7.8 percent of the average expenditure made by tourists if the results of 2017 are taken as a parameter.
Regarding the expense of this type of tourist housed in rented properties, the report states that it is diluted with local activities, since it coexists more with the resident, and on the pressure that this tourist activity generates on the prices of the long-term rental, the study indicates that there are not enough data to affirm that this pressure really exists or that the increase registered in recent years has been caused exclusively by the increase in housing for tourism purposes.
The report states that globally, neither from the administration nor from the citizenship is it perceived, that homes used for tourism in Marbella are a widespread problem. «However,» he says, «they agree on the need to establish preventive measures to prevent future negative impacts on tourism and on citizen coexistence, as happens in other municipalities.”
It also points out perceived negative effects concentrated in the Old Quarter of Marbella and the Paseo Marítimo have been detected, as well as those reported by professionals within the tourism sector, particularly hotels.
Almost 20 percent of illegal units are exclusively on Airbnb
When analyzing the number of homes used for tourism in Marbella, the report compared those that appear in the Tourism Registry of Andalusia with those offered on Airbnb and noted a significant imbalance. Airbnb offered 29,000 units, a figure that, if contrasted with data collected by the Tourism Registry, implies a 19.5 percent rate of illegal rental homes just on this platform. The first rental homes registered on Airbnb in Marbella did so in 2010; since then this number has continued to grow, moving from two homes in that year to more than 9,600 in 2018. This figure refers to the total number of properties listed, which includes some that were registered at one point but may not necessarily be active now.
Source: Diario Sur
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