In 1956, at a time when the great majority of the general public in the UK and other countries would have had little knowledge of Spain, they were given a meteorology and geography lesson by Julie Andrews. Eliza Doolittle, by George, finally got it. The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.
Apart from the debatable choice of preposition - in the plain or on the plain - My Fair Lady raised questions as to the accuracy of this statement and to what or where the plain was. Lowland areas of Spain are those of the Ebro Basin in the north, the Andalusian Plain and the coastal plains.
In Andalusia, such is the region’s climate, Eliza’s assertion becomes “la lluvia en Sevilla es una pura maravilla” - a true marvel for it to ever rain. Had Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics been correct, the as yet to be enticed mass British tourist might have been deterred forever from having gone to Benidorm or Torremolinos for fear of the rain.
In Mallorca, there is no mistaking where the plain is. A good chunk of the island is known as the plain - the Pla region. In meteorological terms, what evidence there may be as to the rain staying mainly in it has come from the met agency. For a recent forecast of rain, Aemet observed that this was to do with breezes in the interior.
Alternatively, as Aemet readily admitted, this might not be the case, and there was promptly a huge downpour in Cala Ratjada. Rainfall in Mallorca knows no discrimination. Its distribution is equitable. It can rain mainly anywhere.
Other than sharing the potential for rain, the Pla does suffer from a discrimination of an economic kind. There isn’t a great deal of tourism. The same can be said for its neighbouring region, Raiguer, although the tourism does depend on how these two regions are defined. Pla includes Muro and Santa Margalida, both with significant coastal tourism. Alcudia is in Raiguer. But these general definitions don’t apply at all municipal levels and to groupings of municipalities to form a so-called commonwealth - Mancomunitat.
The Pla commonwealth comprises fourteen municipalities - Algaida, Ariany, Costitx, Lloret de Vistalegre, Llubi, Maria de la Salut, Montuiri, Petra, Porreres, Sant Joan, Santa Eugenia, Sencelles, Sineu and Vilafranca. Muro and Santa Margalida have never been part of this commonwealth, having formed a separate one with Alcudia, Arta, Pollensa and Sa Pobla, which collapsed as an entity several years ago due to a lack of interest.
Montuiri has become the unofficial tourism capital of this commonwealth by virtue of something known as SuSTowns. It shouldn’t be so difficult to work out how this neologism has come about - sustainable tourism has bred a European Regional Development Fund programme known as Interreg Mediterranean, and SuSTowns are a project within this. Montuiri was chosen as a pilot municipality. It is therefore on its way to becoming a SuSTown, or perhaps more appropriately a SuSTvillage.
While the rain of tourism in Mallorca falls mainly on the coastal resorts, villages in the interior have acquired microclimates of modishness. This is due in no small part to holiday rentals. Hotels there are, of the boutique or rural variety. Agrotourism there also is. But it is the rented villa that has above all advanced the case for tourism in the interior municipality, aided over the past twelve months or so by a desire to escape crowds.
However, much as fashionable tourists may desire some isolation, the sum of their parts threatens inundation. Tourism stays mainly away from the plain, but like an Aemet forecast, if the breezes of trend blow in the required interior manner, rainfall per square metre is substituted by a human pressure on a metric scale that brings the risk of washing away sustainability.
In its blurb, Interreg Mediterranean refers to “charming” and “fascinating” small towns (aka villages) in the thirteen Mediterranean countries that form this programme. The problem is that its own choice of adjectives reinforces the potential for sustainable tourism to be undermined. It explains that tourism marketing is needed that contributes to a strategy of “stabilising tourism flows”.
Quite, but marketing messages of charm and fascination might be felt to be potentially counterproductive. Montuiri has apparently undertaken initiatives in line with SuSTowns thinking and is taking a leadership role in extending these to other municipalities in the Pla Mancomunitat so that they can all strike a balance between enhancing tourism and maintaining the “idiosyncrasy” of the region and preventing alteration of their “fragile ecosystems”.
The Mancomunitat has taken on tourism promotion responsibilities for all the fourteen municipalities in looking to create “a common identity and its own brand of tourist destination that at the same time differentiates itself from the rest of the island”. And what might this entail? A cycling-hiking network for one thing. Differentiated? Maybe it will be, and with any luck it’ll be sustainable as well.