William Nilsson (left) and José Luis Groizard, authors of the study into holiday rentals. | R.L.

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A study by the University of the Balearic Islands into holiday rentals has considered "myths" associated with this type of offer and is critical of the regional government's planned legislation.

Professor José Luis Groizard and Associate Professor William Nilsson have looked specifically at information for properties offered via Airbnb. They reveal that in August last year there were over 15,000 active property advertisements that were whittled down to just over 12,000 in a process of "debugging". Of these nearly 6,000 were being used. In presenting the study, Nilsson said that this shows that in the high season a half of properties being offered are empty at any one time.

He observed that there is a direct relationship between the number of hotel places and rentals' places. In resorts with the highest hotel offer, there are fewer Airbnb places (and vice versa). He added: "When one compares the number of tourists staying in hotels with those in rentals, the differences are greater because the hotels have higher average occupancy."

The excessive profitability of rentals was considered in the study. Nilsson explained that 50% of rentals in Palma were occupied for 58 days or fewer between May and September. The average income for these five months, he noted, was 4,744 euros. "This isn't a huge amount if you consider that it corresponds to 395 euros per month for the whole year. If someone wants to invest in order to provide a holiday rental, in the majority of cases it isn't profitable compared with regular long-term rental."

Groizard reckoned that the government has two means of avoiding tourist saturation. One would be to restrict the total amount of tourist offer (hotels, rentals, etc.). The other would be through indirect taxation. He said that he was in favour of taxes because they are neutral in terms of the properties which produce tax revenue and because they are flexible and can be adjusted according to dealing with demand. In this regard, therefore, he argued that the government's tourist tax is an effective way of tackling tourist saturation, suggesting that it should even increase.

As for the planned legislation, the study argues that it is excessively restrictive and will be harmful, especially to families which have medium to low incomes.