Cala Varques in Manacor, which has been something of a "saturation" hotspot. | Archive

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The daily charge for visitors to Venice may be an extreme example, but it is an example nonetheless of measures that local authorities are prepared to adopt in managing tourist numbers. This system was due to have been introduced before now, but the pandemic had rendered it irrelevant.

However, wasn't the pandemic supposed to have changed things? Can you recall all those wise prognostications to the effect that tourism will never be the same again? Others pointed to how long it would take for there to be full recovery. 2022 wasn't meant to have been the year; there might never have been a year. But if and when that year were to arrive, tourists would be somehow different.

An indication of 2022 being the year of full recovery is the fact that the Aena airports authority is forecasting a higher total number of passengers for Palma's Son Sant Joan than in the record year of 2019 - 29.7 million passengers in all (arriving and departing). And with recovery occurring, local authorities are acting.

Protest against tourist "massification" in Barcelona in July 2018

Barcelona is one of the Mediterranean cities most prone to "tourist saturation". On Friday, a meeting of the city's council approved a Summer Plan to be put into effect before the end of June. In proposing this plan, Ernest Maragull of the ERC Catalonia Republican Left observed: "Yes, we want a city with tourism. But we do not want a city that depends on tourism. We cannot accept a return to unlimited growth. We need a new direction, a new vision."

Specifics of the plan include an urgent reactivation of the unit to tackle illegal tourist accommodation, limiting guided tour groups to fifteen people and promoting different tour routes in order to avoid congestion. It also urges the presentation of a report into tourist carrying capacity - how many people Barcelona can sustain.

This all sounds familiar to those of us in Mallorca, where recovery is reigniting the debate about saturation and over-dependence on tourism. As an example, the spokesperson for Més in the Balearic parliament, Miquel Ensenyat, said the other day that "depending on tourism alone is suicide".

Regardless of negative factors - inflation, the war, the remaining Covid travel requirements - the signs are positive. After two summers of serious disruption, travellers have some certainty, businesses are open, people are back at work, even if hotels and restaurants - having taken workers for granted - are struggling to fill all their positions.

Should we not all be happy and grateful? Yes, but happy and grateful at what cost, as this is the nub of the issue that the pandemic has not swept away. It an issue that pulls in so many different elements, e.g. the environment, resources, housing, the nature of tourism, the number of tourists, the imbalance of the economy and of the working year.

2022 the year of full tourism recovery? Could be. But will it also be the year of the full recovery of the tourism debate? Very likely. More than full recovery, one fancies.