In a packed room of guests at the Los Monteros Hotel on Monday, the national government's minister for Tourism sought to reassure the Costa del Sol that British visitors would still be a priority after Brexit.
Álvaro Nadal said that negotiations over Britain's withdrawal from the European Union were still ongoing although they had already covered the areas of most concern to the Spanish government. These include future visitor entry and residency rights. He explained, “We must have a system as close as possible to what we have now.”
Nadal was speaking at a Marbella business leaders' forum, part of a series organised by the SUR newspaper group.
Addressing the issue of taxation for non-residents, he added, “We have to be careful in the double taxation agreements that those people that have a second home [in Spain] don't have to pay both here and there for the same thing.”
Continuing his message that it will be business as usual post Brexit, Nadal expanded by saying that “the 17 million British tourists that we greet every year are a priority in the negotiation... and we want to maintain the status quo.”
Holiday lets in the spotlight
The subject of the uncontrolled rise in the number of private homes being rented out to tourists, especially in urban centres, was also raised during the forum.
In response to recent criticism from the regional government that national government could do more to regulate the increase in the private-home rental sector, Nadal was swift to pass the responsibility back onto the different regions of Spain, and in the case of the Costa del Sol, on to the Junta de Andalucía in particular. “It's clear that the competency [to regulate holiday lets] lies with the regions and locally because every situation is different,” he explained.
In terms of whether home rentals to holidaymakers could be regulated as a business activity, he said that if it related to tourism it was up to the regional governments to legislate.
Nadal went on to add that his ministry, which also covers Industry and the Digital Agenda as well as Tourism, was working with the national ministry of Justice to devise changes to horizontal property legislation which would give residents' associations the flexibility to decide their own rules on neigbours renting out their flats or houses to tourists.
In addition, constant efforts were being made to reduce tax evasion by forcing people who rent out their homes to declare income, and so reduce unfair competition for hotels.
The minister also emphasised the need to invest in digital solutions. “The future of the sector depends on us making the best of this technological revolution,” he explained.