Tourists in Formentor. | Teresa Ayuga

Whenever there is discussion of tourism competitors to the Balearics, comparisons are not made with other regions but with entire countries. In this regard, data from the UN World Tourism Organization indicate that the Balearics, as of September this year, were behind certain countries considered to be direct competitors. Even so, the Balearics stood at number sixteen in the world in terms of tourist numbers.

For the record, the fifteen countries above the Balearics were France, the US, Italy, Turkey, Mexico, the UK, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Portugal, Austria, the UAE, the Netherlands, Croatia and Spain itself.

This lofty position for the Balearics does have to be put in context. Tourism in Asian countries is way below what it was pre-pandemic. China has suffered most. Not only have tourist numbers in China collapsed, so also have the numbers travelling. This has contributed to major falls in tourist numbers in other Asian countries.

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There is also Russia, the war having dragged down tourism in eastern European countries such as Hungary and Poland.

Based on 2019 data, the Balearics wouldn't be in the world's top 30. Nevertheless, the fact that the islands - a regional as opposed to a national destination - find themselves in a top 20 comprising countries points to the post-pandemic recovery of tourism and to the strength of tourism. But for some, this strength, as far as sustainability is concerned, can also be perceived not as a weakness but as a threat.

* For the first nine months of the year, the recovery of foreign tourism in the Balearics was 95% of what it was in 2019. Globally, the recovery was 65%; the European average was 80%. By the year end, it is anticipated that the total number of tourists (foreign and national) will be on a par with the 16.5 million in 2019.