Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Tourist Tax, Expat Influx, Sweet Relief, the Solution to the Housing Bubble, Amazon in Lisbon, Ship Wrecks, and much more!
100% Increase in Tourist Tax
Who’s noticed the toll that tourism is taking on Lisbon? Well, you’re not the only one. Bloco de Esquerda is looking to double the current tourism tax to compensate for the “immense problems in many of Lisbon’s historic neighborhoods” caused by tourism, as Councilman Manuel Grilo puts it. The tax would double to 2€ per night, a trifle for most holiday-goers, and the proceeds would be used for “urban hygiene, housing, and transport.”
More Guests, More Grind
But wait! The increase in tourists means more jobs in hospitality, right? Wrong. While the number of hotel guests increased by 48% between 2011 and 2017, the number of jobs grew just 13%. Additionally, the average number of employees per company dropped from 3.34 in 2011 to 2.86 in 2016. What this means is there is more work for fewer people for the same low wages.
Portugal’s Expat Influx
It isn’t just the number of visitors that has increased, but the number of people moving here, too. The amount of foreign nationals living in Portugal increased by 83% in the last one and a half years. This has been attributed to the tax benefits that Portugal offers, which make foreign pensions tax-exempt and fix IRS at 20% for 10 years for skilled workers. The majority of new residents have come from France, the UK, and Italy, but there are many from other countries as well.
Amazon Lands in Lisbon
After announcing its intention to open an office in Porto, Amazon changed its mind and are instead establishing a base in Lisbon. The company’s division that provides networking, database, computing, and storage services announced its arrival in the country earlier in the year, and says it has come to “support the growing customer base” here. This is the first Amazon Web Services office in the country and could mean a major shift for tech businesses in Portugal.
New Four-Tier Sugar Tax
First, they came for the sugar packets, now they come for Sumol. Ok, not specifically Sumol, but the government intends to implement a new tax system for sugary soft drinks. The current tax is divided into two tiers, whereas the new system — to be implemented in 2019 — would create four levels, allowing for higher taxes for higher sugar content. “Nectars and liquid yogurts” don’t fall under this tax, so you can still happily slurp up your peach Compal.
Buy More, Pay Less
ERA, the estate agents, say that we shouldn’t worry about Lisbon’s housing market, and if people want to slow the rising prices, we just need more property to sell! João Pedro Pereira from the Executive Real Estate Commission says that there is no housing market bubble, and the idea that there could be is being pushed by people who don’t understand that real estate markets take time to adjust. Well, I’m glad that’s sorted.
Portugal Advocates Change
We should all, once again, be proud to call Portugal home. According to a study by the European Commision, 97% of Portuguese respondents say that EU aid policies should focus on women, and 76% “advocate a fight against discriminatory attitudes towards women.” Additionally, 95% of Portuguese respondents support “cooperation with developing countries,” and 73% think that tackling poverty should be a priority for the EU.
Some Very Cool Ship
To end on a high, or rather a very low, archaeologists from the Municipal Council of Cascais have discovered a shipwreck off the coast of Cascais. Thought to be from between 1575 and 1625, it is being called the “discovery of the century.” The wreck was discovered Sept. 3, at an average depth of 12 meters, covering an area of approximately 100 meters by 50 meters. It is most certainly a Portuguese ship, and several items have already been recovered and preserved.
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!