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1st SMARTDEST Scientific Workshop – Friday September 24th at 15:00-18:00 CET

The event has been organised in the framework of the SMARTDEST project by the Vienna University team led by Prof. Yuri Kazepov.

During the event, results achieved until now by the partnership will be presented and will be discussed among different experts, project partners and by some of our Advisory Committee members.

You can find the complete Workshop programme at the following link:

https://smartdest.eu/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Smartdest_Scientifc_Workshop_24-9-2021-Programme-and-Abstracts.pdf

Interested academics and stakeholders are invited to register for the workshop at the following link

You can join the online workshop at the following link

Living apart together? Mobile professionals and long-term residents in Lisbon’s city centre

By Franz Buhr, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon

In the last ten years, not only have tourist arrivals to Lisbon increased exponentially, but the city has also become a hotspot for other kinds of transient populations. Digital nomads, ‘expats’, lifestyle migrants, and other transnationally mobile professionals are increasingly present in the city’s social landscape. What are the impacts of these new temporary residents in the city’s dynamics?

Let us go for a tour around the neighbourhoods of Santos and São Bento in Lisbon. You will find centuries-old hilly streets, the tram tracks, tile façades, and… Nordic coffee shops, hip cocktail bars, and brunch eateries! Not long ago, these shops were either abandoned, derelict, or housed small family businesses such as traditional Portuguese bakeries or Cape Verdean restaurants. Now, these two neighbourhoods are probably the epicentre of a new kind of commercial dynamics attracting tourists and locals, but particularly appealing to digital nomads, ‘expats’, and other foreign residents whose purchase power is (more often than not) well above the Portuguese average.

During the most severe months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when there were virtually no tourists around, some of these specialty coffee shops, artisanal bakeries, and patisseries survived on the basis of their foreign-resident clientele. In one of our SMARTDEST interviews, the owner of a specialty coffee shop in the area argued that 95% of his customers were of foreign origin. “Lots of Germans, French, Americans… They come to Portugal but keep working for their countries and have a lot more economic capacity than those being paid Portuguese-level salaries” he stated.

Once considered ‘crossing points’ to the more touristic areas of the city, Santos and São Bento are now attracting their own visitors. The SMARTDEST team in Lisbon asked local residents if they also visited, bought, or ate at these new gourmet cafés and restaurants. Our preliminary results point to what one resident called ‘parallel worlds’: on the one side, traditional forms of commerce frequented by the local elderly population; on the other, new gourmet restaurants and trendy shops where one finds tourists, but mainly high-income foreign residents. Although some of these transient populations find short-term rentals within these same neighbourhoods, their consumption geographies seem to rarely intersect or interact with those of long-term residents.

Another research participant, mother of three children and living in the area for 25 years, said that “the ambiance feels very different now, because buildings have been renovated, trash is always collected, gardens look beautiful (…), and it’s nice to have that shop selling beautifully-made croissants, but they are super expensive and we won’t buy croissants every day. It’s all made for people in transit (de passagem)”.

Can these two ‘parallel worlds’ interact with each other? Do long-term residents feel excluded in some way? Are traditional forms of commerce and retail doomed to disappear? These are some of the critical questions to be discussed collectively at the future CityLab organised by the SMARTDEST project with local stakeholders and residents.

remote worker

Working remotely (and travelling) during the pandemic

By Franz Buhr, Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon

As the COVID-19 pandemic disseminated and intensified remote work practices, more and more professionals became interested in spending a few months at pleasant destinations where confinement restrictions were not so strict. These ‘pandemic travellers’ add to existing mobility patterns of digital nomads – professionals who work while travelling. Lisbon has increasingly attracted mobile remote workers, who relocate to the city for short periods with the goal of combining work, travel and leisure.

During (and even before) the pandemic, a number of countries established schemes facilitating the inflow of remote workers, such as Croatia, Estonia, Barbados, among others. In December 2020, Greece joined the global hunt for digital nomads as its parliament passed a new law allowing digital nomads to half their income tax. Although there is no national programme aiming to specifically attract remote workers to Portugal, digital nomads have demonstrated interest in relocating to places like Lisbon, Ericeira or the Madeira islands.

Long before ‘pandemic travellers’ started heading to Lisbon to enjoy its mild weather and the possibilities of working from cafés or coworking spaces (which was impossible in Belgium or Germany, for instance), digital nomads had already ranked Lisbon as a favourite destination. In 2018, the economy magazine Forbes placed Lisbon as the fourth ideal city for digital nomads (after Bali, London, and Chiang Mai). These professionals seem to be attracted to Lisbon’s sunny weather, fast internet, walkability, and local infrastructure to work from. In November 2020, during the first phase of the pandemic in Portugal, a special decree was passed authorising hotels (which were mostly empty) to adapt their restaurants and lobbies as coworking spaces, signalling a growing demand for shared offices by digital nomads and other remote professionals.

Although some prefer to work from ‘home’ (usually a short-term rental with high speed connection), digital nomads often work from cafés and coworking spaces. As temporary residents, they seem to blur long-established distinctions between tourists and residents (or between outsiders and locals), as they find accommodation through digital platforms, but also become knowledgeable about local trends using mobile technologies to learn about nightlife, restaurants and the city’s ‘hidden gems’. Moreover, as their mobilities are motivated by the possibility to combine work and lifestyle, digital nomads usually move to places where they maximize purchase power, thus adding pressure to local markets. In this sense, the impact of digital nomads upon local neighbourhoods deserves further research, especially as it may intersect with wider urban change patterns, such as gentrification and commercial landscape transformation.

Transnational gentrification, tourism and the formation of ‘foreign only’ enclaves in Barcelona

Cocola-Gant, A & Lopez-Gay, A (2020). Transnational gentrification, tourism and the formation of ‘foreign only’ enclaves in Barcelona. Urban Studies. DOI: 10.1177/0042098020916111.

In a context of global-scale inequalities and increased middle-class transnational mobility, this paper illustrates how the arrival of Western European and North American migrants in a central neighbourhood in Barcelona drives a process of gentrification that coexists and overlaps with the development of tourism in the city. In understanding how tourism drives neighbourhood change, the paper moves beyond the impacts of visitors and Airbnb and considers how tourism is made and shaped by different forms of mobilities. This involves that urban tourist destinations experience the influx of transnational mobile populations such as lifestyle migrants, international students, and digital nomads who tend to settle in centrally located areas that are themselves impacted by tourism. Given the spatial division of labour within Europe in which Southern Europe has historically targeted consumers from core-accumulation areas as a means to stimulate the economy, transnational mobile populations from more advanced economies become privileged consumers of housing and therefore are able to gentrify the places in which they settle. Relying on socio-demographic data and in-depth interviews with both migrants and Spanish residents, the paper shows how the issue of unequal income structures was mentioned by all the participants and regarding housing markets, it reveals a clear difference in the perspective of migrants and Spanish residents. On the one hand, migrants found Barcelona a cheap place to live in and indeed, for many, Barcelona was a good place to invest in terms of real estate. On the other hand, Spanish participants felt increasingly excluded and as one resident stated, ‘if you want to buy a house to live in you actually have to compete against people that for us are super-rich’. The result is that in a context in which housing has turned into hotels and holiday rentals, the remaining stock available for long-term occupation tends to be rented by transnational mobile populations. Furthermore, as tourism and transnational gentrification spatially coexist, we found that the effects of this overlap go beyond the inability of residents to access housing, and it further creates an exclusion process marked by the differences in lifestyles between long-term residents and transnational mobile populations. The fact that transnational migrants feel more integrated in a tourist area leads to the formation of ‘foreign only’ enclaves that are not attractive to Spanish residents. Not only housing, but retail and spaces for leisure and socialisation cater to transnational mobile populations as well; with little interaction between them and Spanish individuals. As a result, the paper illustrates how residents experience the transnational appropriation of space and their encounters with transient foreigners who are better positioned in the unequal division of labour.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0042098020916111