VALENCIA – To tackle the growing number of illegal tourist apartments, the autonomous government of Valencia (the Generalitat) wants to use artificial intelligence and chatbots. They want to monitor these accommodations and punish illegal providers.
The plans were unveiled by the regional Minister of Innovation, Industry, Trade and Tourism, Nuria Montes. She did this during her presentation in the Valencian parliament to explain her first measures.
Her priority is to develop bots programmed with artificial algorithms to scour tourist accommodation booking sites and compare their offers with the official list of Valencian accommodations. “Any deviation will be fined, closed and removed,” the minister said in parliament.
Jerónimo Mora, former associate professor at the University of Alicante and now the Regional Secretary for Innovation, is at the helm of the project. He emphasises that artificial intelligence does not have to be threatening if it is used as an instrument for good business. These bots can also identify “patterns” in listings that could indicate an unlisted apartment. This could be, for example, incorrect land registry numbers, incorrect owner identification details, or missing information. If an apartment is considered suspicious, this may lead to further inspections by ministry employees.
No fines, just a warning first
Valencia does not so much want to impose fines on illegal providers, but to encourage them to register their apartments. If unregistered apartments are discovered, owners will first receive a warning to register. If they do not do this, fines may be imposed. The aim is to ensure that most apartments are registered without actually having to issue fines.
Clearer and more accessible registration process
In addition to artificial intelligence, Valencia will also develop chatbots to answer questions about the registration process for tourist accommodations. The aim is to make the process clearer and more accessible for those wishing to register their properties.
European regulatory framework for holiday rentals
These measures follow a new European regulatory framework for holiday rentals that will soon be introduced. The aim of this initiative is to simplify procedures on digital platforms such as Airbnb. In addition, it will be easier for authorities to collect data, which can help shape policies surrounding tourism and the housing market. This legislation will provide each apartment with a unique registration number. In addition, it obliges platforms to check advertisers’ registration data.
Shortage of inspectors solved by AI and chatbots
Jerónimo Mora is enthusiastic about the possibilities offered by these EU regulations. He hopes that artificial intelligence will help solve the shortage of inspectors in the Valencia region. There, only 11 people are responsible for enforcing the rules for tourist accommodations. Until now, Valencia had to work with local authorities and their police units to carry out these inspections.