Caló des Moro in Santanyi. | Joan Socies


In 2015, Manacor town hall removed coves from its guide for tourists. It no longer wished to promote unspoiled beaches that had become increasingly spoiled because there were too many tourists. Number one among these spoiled unspoiled beaches was Cala Varques, where "saturation" wasn't solely human; there were all the vehicles as well. More recently, the town hall has created a car park with 32 spaces. As if this makes much difference; as if eliminating the coves from the guide eight years ago had made any difference.

With Mallorca facing a summer which forecasts suggest could be a record in terms of tourist numbers, so concerns return regarding the saturation of certain coves, other beaches and beauty spots. Cala Varques is but one of several from a list that typically includes Caló des Moro, Es Trenc, Es Caragol, Torrent de Pareis, the miradors of Deya and Es Colomer on the Formentor peninsula. These are among the commonly mentioned "hot spots" for saturation. There are others, such as Es Comú, the stretch of beach in Playa de Muro that is backed by dunes and forest.

The Manacor decision was a meaningless gesture against an onslaught of informal promotion. Instagram first appeared in 2010. Twitter had come four years previously, Facebook six years, TripAdvisor ten years. The sharing, the recommending, the influencing were all to take time to mature and to have an impact, but impact they nevertheless - and obviously - had. But when the various platforms were in their comparative infancy, they were assisted by the very authorities who are now angst-ridden because of saturation, something to which they themselves helped to contribute.

Going back in time, and where coves and unspoiled beaches were concerned, there was institutional promotion. The case I personally know best was Es Comú. The numbers of visitors and cars started to increase progressively. Responses have since included restricting access to Ses Casetes des Capellans.

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The number of tourists was in any event increasing year on year, the institutional desire having been to let these tourists know about parts of Mallorca that weren't packed urban beaches. Inherent to this, or so it seemed, was the quest for the "quality tourist", one who would prefer the unspoiled spots. Whatever type of tourist it was, a preference was made. And when social media really exploded, progressive increase was supercharged.

Solutions sought have included park and ride. When Mercedes Garrido, one of President Armengol's most trusted allies, was the councillor for infrastructure and territory at the Council of Mallorca, she proposed this as a means of dealing with the saturation of vehicles. Schemes have met with modest success - those in Santanyi and for Es Trenc. Other schemes haven't seen the light of day. For Es Comú, where was a park for ride to be located?

The most successful has been the shuttle bus system for Formentor, but its success has to be set against a saturation that has shifted to different times of the day. When traffic restrictions were mid-June to mid-September 10am to 7pm, there was heavy traffic in the evenings; there were sunset excursions. The restrictions were extended to 10.30pm, and so there were sunrise excursions. Now the restrictions are from June 1 to September 30, but the only way that saturation could truly be eliminated would be 24 hours from April to October.

As the season gets under way, so we can be sure that there will be reports of saturation, with the usual spots in Mallorca most in focus. Indignation will be expressed, some it from institutions where the predecessors of current incumbents helped - inadvertently perhaps - to foster this indignation.