News from Majorca: mass tourism

Palma.—It’s that time of year when we start moaning and moaning that we have too many tourists and the island is “saturated”. Well before starting a long debate to try to reduce (further) the number of tourists, I remind you that the cold wind of recession will blow on Europe this autumn.

The Spanish economy is struggling, the cost of living continues to rise and I sincerely doubt that many hotels will stay open this winter. It would be absolutely fantastic if Majorca were relatively empty during the summer months; more space on the beach, no need to book a table in a restaurant, quieter roads. Paradise in the Mediterranean. But the truth is that Mallorca lives off tourism and we need busy summers to sustain the local economy.

Thirty years ago, it was decided that the island would be a mass vacation spot attracting tourists of all kinds and purchasing power. It was a decision taken locally and obviously supported by the local population. Mass tourism has paid a healthy share for Mallorca. Billions of euros have been won. Now we say enough is enough. We want fewer tourists with more purchasing power. To some extent this wish is coming true with a large number of new five star hotels being built, adding to the significant number Majorca already has. But this island cannot survive with five-star tourism. It has become accustomed to millions of tourists every year and, in fact, the local economy has been built there.

Cake and eat it
Local politicians say we need a new tourism strategy, the Balearic government says we already have one, without building new hotels. Part of the reason the sponsorship deal with Real Mallorca football club by local authorities fell through was because of the stadium’s name; Visit Mallorca.

Majorcan nationalists say this has only encouraged more tourists to visit the island. Yes, that’s the general idea!!! It is a clear example of the school of thought that currently exists in Mallorca when it comes to tourism. Some sections of the local community do not want mass tourism. Others agree that we need it to survive. It’s the same with the cruise ship controversy. Five ships in port will be a welcome sight for the business community, but will lead to protests from some residents. This is an argument that will run and run for a while. I understand both points of view but I also know that Mallorca must survive.

Our only source of income is tourism and the decision to make the island a mass resort was taken three decades ago. A bad decision? Well no. We got rich, but now we want to stay rich without too many tourists. It won’t happen, I’m afraid.

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