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Palma.—It is that time of the year when we start moaning and groaning that we have got too many tourists and the island is “saturated.” Well before we start entering into a long debate about trying to reduce the number of tourists (yet again) I will remind you that the chill winds of recession will be blowing through Europe this autumn.

The Spanish economy is in trouble, the cost of living continues to rise and I sincerely doubt that many hotels will remain open this winter. It would be absolutely fantastic if Mallorca was relatively empty during the summer months; more space on the beach, no need to reserve 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 keep the local economy going.

Thirty years ago it was decided that the island would be a mass holiday resort attracting tourists of all sorts and spending power. This was a decision taken locally and obviously supported by local people. Mass tourism has paid a healthy divided for Mallorca. Billions of euros have been earnt. Now, we are saying enough is enough. We want less tourists with more spending power. To some extent this wish is coming true with a large number of new five star hotels being built adding to the sizeable number that Mallorca already has. But this island can´t survive on five star tourism. It has become accustomed to millions of tourists every year and in fact the local economy is built on it.

Cake and eat it
Local politicians say that we need a new tourism strategy, the Balearic government says that we have already have one, with no new hotels being built. Part of the reason why the sponsorship deal with Real Mallorca football club by the local authorities fell through was because of the name of the stadium; VisitMallorca.

The Mallorcan Nationalists said that all this did was encourage more tourists to visit the island. Yep, well that is the general idea!!! It is a clear example of the school of thought which exists on Mallorca at the moment regarding tourism. Some sections of the local community don´t want mass tourism. Others agree that we need it to survive. It is the same with the controversy over cruise ships. Five ships in port will be a welcome sight for the business community but will mean protests from some residents. It is an argument which will run and run for some time. I understand both points of view but I also know that Mallorca has to survive.

Our only source of income is tourism and the decision to make the island a mass holiday 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. Not going to happen I am afraid.