What if Covid-19 could create the opportunity to convert tourist flats into affordable homes for the local population? Some cities in Europe and beyond have started going in this direction.
Lisbon has recently launched an initiative to encourage the landlords of tourist flats to rent their properties to the city for a minimum of five years. This allows to provide affordable housing while at the same time giving the landlords the guarantee of a stable income in these times of uncertainty.
The city of Venice has partnered with the university and property owners in order to rent unoccupied tourist flats to students, and the agreement seems to be working: in September, the portal dedicated to student rental was having a growing number of requests.
This summer, Barcelona has warned a number of owning companies that the city would seize empty flats (often used for tourist rental), if a tenant would not be found in the coming month. This measure builds on previous ones, all aimed at filling empty apartments.
In the meantime, some hotels are also considering converting their empty facilities into housing. It is the case of a hotel in Brooklyn, which started a partnership with a non-profit to convert its rooms and spaces into flats for homeless people, or low-income families.
Even if tourism will recover from this crisis, it is interesting to see how some cities, traditionally visited by huge numbers of tourists, are re-thinking their business models and re-imagining their spaces, giving them back to local communities.