Cuenca hotel owners are claiming that daily and weekly rentals of furnished condos and houses are hurting their business and are calling on the government to crack down on the practice.
The president of the Association of Azuay Hoteliers, Daniel Hernandez, said his members welcome competition from legitimate hotels and hostals, but that the growing number of daily rentals to tourists, primarily foreigners, is cutting into business.
“This informal and illegal activity needs to be addressed by the municipality,” he said. “Many of these rentals are not legally authorized and are not subject to taxation. We think that there are about 200 apartments rented on a daily basis that are not regulated.”
Hernandez says that many of the foreigners, particularly North Americans, using daily and weekly rentals should be staying in hotels and hostals. “There is an uncontrolled market here that should be examined.” He added that some foreign property owners are not aware of the law and are engaged in daily rentals. “These people need to be informed that what they are doing is not legal.”
In other comments, Hernandez said he expects most of Cuenca’s 6,000 hotel rooms to be full for the city’s independence holidays, Oct. 31 to Nov. 3. “We are more than a week away from the holiday and we already 70% booked,” he said.
Former mayor challenges Granda in 2014 election
Major Paul Granda will face former Cuenca mayor Marcelo Cabrera in next year’s cantonal elections. Granda defeated Cabrera in 2009.
Cabrera is already campaigning, telling labor and civic groups that Granda is “out of touch” with the citizens. “There is an absence of leadership and entrepreneurial spirit in the current administration. There needs to be greater connection with Cuenca’s business leaders, professionals and students than currently exists,” he said last week.
Granda defeated Cabrera promising improvements in public transportation and a greater investment in the city’s historic district. He cites the pending construction of the Travia light rail system, reconstruction of city parks and sidewalks and the addition of miles of bicycle paths as evidence of his success. He promises more of the same if he is reelected.
Cabrera has his own transportation plans, including a proposal for a train that would connect Cuenca suburbs with the city center.
City receives money for Av. Lasso condemnations
The Ecuador Ministry of Transportion and Public Works (MTOP) has awarded Cuenca $3.4 million to complete the purchase of property in advance of the widening of Avenue Ordonez Lasso.
Construction is scheduled to begin next year but many property owners have complained that compensation offered by the city was inadequate and have refused to sell. Mayor Paul Granda said that the municipality is working hard to be fair but that the widening of Lasso is a priority for city transportation needs and he was committed to keeping the project on schedule. He said that the government was legally entitled to condemn property in projects that promote the public werlfare.
A number of problems have slowed the condemnation process, including the discovery that some Lasso properties are are not legally titled. Other problems include inheritance status, where it has been difficult to locate all family members who are property owners.
According to project manager Fernando Pesántez, the money provided by MTOP will compensate property owners beginning in November.
Photo caption: Former Cuenca mayor Marcelo Cabrera.