Urgent call for residential housing solutions in tourist areas

Urgent call for residential housing solutions in tourist areas

The hotelier’s association and the major hospitality unions are jointly demanding "urgent solutions" to the serious problem of housing shortage for workers in the tourism sector and locations in Tenerife. Ashotel and Sindicalistas de Base conveyed their concerns to the Canary Islands Federation of Municipalities (Fecam) about the acute shortage of reasonably priced rentals in and around tourist towns, particularly in the south of Tenerife.

The situation is forcing workers to reside in increasingly distant areas from hotels, apartment complexes, and restaurants, exacerbating traffic congestion in the region.

Jorge Marichal, president of Ashotel, called for "faster and more feasible solutions" to address the "bureaucratic slowness" associated with transferring land from municipalities to the Canary Islands government for the construction of public housing.

He suggested that municipalities with established residential land, derived from 10% of partial development plans, facilitate the construction of housing projects by companies willing to rent these homes or apartments to workers at a reasonable cost with price caps. Additionally, he highlighted the feasibility of using the Canary Islands Investment Reserve for this purpose.

Hoteliers warned that the current situation is leading to a lack of staff and, in some cases, the closure of units or floors in hotels and aparthotels "due to not being able to have enough staff to provide the service required."

Manuel Fitas, the general secretary of Sindicalistas de Base, raised concerns about the "collapse" threatening the tourism sector due to the housing shortage and mobility issues, causing "physical and mental overload" for company employees. He emphasized the increase in absenteeism in the sector, ranging from 15% to 25% of company staff, and up to 30% among housekeeping staff.

The union agreed that, if there is available urban land and entrepreneurs willing to build housing for workers with stable employment and salaries that allow for affordable rentals, the "will of the administrations" is required to make it happen.

Fitas has warned about the "eviction" of workers from tourist areas for several years, due to the rising cost of rentals, not only in the main tourist area but also on the inland side of the TF-1 motorway, with traffic problems further complicating split shifts in the sector.

Ashotel highlights that the Canary Islands have the highest demand for social housing among all regions of Spain and, at the same time, have the highest volume of empty houses. It attributes this situation to the surge in holiday rentals, which has strained the long-term rental market and pushed up prices.

They insist that the lack of urban planning regulation determining "where and where not" tourist housing can be exploited in the archipelago has led to an "exponential increase" in tourist rental spaces in recent years. Currently, there are 195,000 registered in the islands, 60% more than six years ago, compared to the 325,000 regulated tourist spaces in the archipelago's hotels and apartments.

The Canary Islands Federation of Municipalities, led by President María Concepción Brito, offered to advise municipalities on this matter and proposed creating a working group with Ashotel and Sindicalistas de Base. The next meeting between the three parties will take place in the second half of January.