Unconventional accommodation boom in the Canary Islands sparks regulatory concerns

  • Canarian Weekly
  • 29-05-2024
  • National
  • Photo Credit: La Provincia
Unconventional accommodation boom in the Canary Islands sparks regulatory concerns

A surge in unconventional accommodation options in the Canary Islands, such as a van in the middle of a banana plantation or sleeping bags in a car, has caught the attention of both tourists and regulators. These “creative” accommodations, advertised as offering a unique experience "in contact with nature" and “under the starry sky," are gaining popularity but often fail to comply with the Canary Islands’ 2015 vacation rental laws.

Recent listings on platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com showcase a variety of unusual lodgings that don’t comply with regulatory requirements. These include essential amenities and health and safety measures to protect those staying there. Despite non-compliance, many of these listings boast nearly perfect ratings.

One notable listing in Santa Cruz de Tenerife advertises a "practical and functional vehicle equipped with two sleeping bags and a beach cooler." The vehicle, a normal car, is promoted as ideal for adventuring in both coastal and mountainous areas. The ad features scenic landscapes, beaches, and the vehicle next to an outdoor shed, earning a five-star rating from 32 satisfied users. Reviews highlight the fair pricing and suitability for budget travel, attracting guests from Finland, Austria, Germany, and Italy. However, the lack of a kitchen, bathroom, and basic living conditions violates the 2015 housing law.

In Güímar, another unconventional lodging is found among greenhouses and crops: a yurt or hut used by Central Asian nomads, situated in the garden of an organic farm. As showcased on the "Ponte al Día" program, the yurt offers a mattress on pallets for guests to "relax from their adventures,” however, it doesn’t have essential amenities such as a kitchen or proper bathroom, and the ad mentions only an outdoor shower amidst banana trees, promising a "unique experience under the starry sky."

Another example featured on Radio Televisión Canaria involves a holiday rental where the bedroom is a van parked on a terrace. The makeshift kitchen is a gas hob with a kettle, cups, and pans on a cabinet, while the bathroom is outdoors. This setup fails to meet the required amenities and security standards. A user noted, "The van cannot be locked, and the toilet lacks privacy." Despite these shortcomings, the rental has allegedly received positive feedback from 59 reviews, praising the area’s tranquillity, comfortable bed, ideal location, and the space’s ability to facilitate relaxation, earning a 4.83-star rating.

Unconventional accommodation boom in the Canary Islands sparks regulatory concerns

The Latest Trend: Boats

The latest trend for unconventional accommodation now includes boats. Increasing tourism numbers and rising prices have pushed holiday rentals into harbours. These boat accommodations fall outside the regulatory scope of the Canary Islands’ Tourism and Vacation Housing Laws. The latter includes apartments, villas, emblematic houses, rural homes, and holiday homes but does not cover boats.

This growing trend of unusual and often non-compliant accommodation options highlights a gap between innovative tourism experiences and existing regulatory frameworks, raising questions about safety, quality, and the overall impact on the housing market in the Canary Islands.