Bye Bye Lisbon: Tourism Gentrification Impacts on Lisbon´s Inner-City Housing Market

Bye Bye Lisbon: Tourism Gentrification Impacts on Lisbon´s Inner-City Housing Market

Luís Mendes (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2224-0.ch008

Abstract

Urban tourism in its various forms has seen a great expansion at the beginning of the 21st century, but the overtourism as a mass phenomenon, hegemonic and dominant in the large Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Porto, is a recent phenomenon. Lisbon is experiencing a peak of international projection as a tourist destination, registering considerable uninterrupted increases in tourist arrivals, overnight stays, and daily revenues, as well as number of hotels, hostels, and short-rental tourist accommodation, with drastic impacts on the social and economic fabric in the historical districts of central Lisbon is recent. This chapter focuses on the driving forces of austerity urbanism and the neoliberal turn in urban politics that fuels the process of tourism gentrification, in the last decade, in Lisbon's historic neighborhoods.
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Introduction

This paper will focus on the driving forces of austerity urbanism and the neoliberal turn in urban politics that fuels the process of tourism gentrification, in the last decade, in Lisbon's historic neighborhoods. Urban tourism in its various forms has seen a great expansion at the beginning of the 21st century, but the overtourism as a mass phenomenon, hegemonic and dominant in the large Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Porto is a recent phenomenon. Lisbon, specifically, is experiencing a peak of international projection as a tourist destination, registering considerable uninterrupted increases in tourist arrivals, overnight stays and daily revenues, as well as number of hotels, hostels and short-rental tourist accommodation.

This evolution has a direct and indirect impact on the national and urban economy, both in terms of wealth created and assured jobs, in addition to the urban revitalization process, evident in the rehabilitation of the building and the housing stock, fundamental to the country's and city´s economic recovery, during and after the capitalist crisis of 2008-2009.

However, the apparent absence of any tourism planning and impact assessment strategy coupled with the almost non-existent regulatory process has fueled tourism gentrification. A neoliberal turn on fiscal and urban policies emerged, driven by post-crisis capitalist international austerity intervention 2011-14 in Portugal. Both national as urban government has discovered the potential of touristification and overtourism in regenerating inner-city traditional housing areas, in order to increase the competitiveness of the city and certain neighbourhoods in the global context of urban competition (Mendes, 2013, 2014, 2016a, 2016b, 2017, 2018; Tulumello, 2015; Barata Salgueiro et al., 2017; Barata Salgueiro, 2017; Krähmer, 2017; Alves, 2017; Pavel, 2017; Nofre et al., 2018; Montezuma and McGarrigle, 2018; Lestegás, 2019). The creation of aggressive programs to attract foreign investment (as the Golden Visa and the Non Habitual Residents), the new urban rent law, the new tax regime for Property Investment Funds, the new law of tourist lodging (short-rental), along with an intense rent gap in the inner-city, as well as a strong growth in tourism in the city of Lisbon, introduced significant changes in the residential market, which went from an abrupt pause to a high level of demand, with supply now beginning to fall short. This situation led to a very quick take-up of the new and good quality residential stock that was available, located mostly in the city’s historic centre. The rapid take-up of apartments, the new tourism drivers – with an “alternative” demand for stays in apartments – and tax incentives to boost urban regeneration, have created renewed interest among many national and international developers, leading to a great rise in the refurbishment of buildings in Lisbon’s historic district.

We have witnessed the transformation of the popular and historical districts of the center city into places of consumption and tourism, by expanding the function of recreation, leisure or tourist accommodation / short-rental lodging that begins to gradually replace the traditional functions of housing for permanent use, long-term lease and traditional local proximity retail, aggravating tendencies of displacement and residential segregation, emptying the neighborhoods of its poor population or preventing low socio-economic population and even middle class from accessing housing in these areas. This is how we define tourism gentrification.

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