Airbnb Just Lost a Limb in its Fourth Biggest Market

Amid a blossoming backlash against mass tourism.

Spain’s eighth largest city by population, Palma, made history this week by becoming the first Spanish city to impose a blanket ban on all tourist apartments. Starting in July homeowners in the capital of the popular island destination, Mallorca, will not be able to rent out their apartments to tourists. Only owners of detached, single-family homes, which represent just 12% of the city’s housing stock, will be left untouched by the ban.

The ban is intended to put an end to surging rental prices in the city. While vacation rentals are not the sole cause of the 40% rise in average rental prices since 2013, they are certainly a big factor. According to one study, the number of non-licensed apartments on offer to tourists increased by 50% between 2015 and 2017 alone.

In 2017 the regional government introduced a raft of measures that allowed authorities to issue apartment owners on the islands of Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Fomentera with fines of up to €40,000 if they were caught renting unlicensed properties to tourists. Travel agents or websites caught advertising unlisted flats to rent on the islands, such as Airbnb and HomeAway, face fines of up to €400,000.

On Monday Palma’s city council escalated the regulatory assault by banning tourist apartments altogether. For Airbnb, the ultimate disruptor of global tourism, this trend is most certainly not its friend

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