Playa de Palma has been spoken about as a digital nomad destination. | Patricia Lozano


Are you a nomad? I am. And I was before the digital variety became fashionable, as this was in the highly unfashionable setting of amateur dramatics - Nomads, the North of Mallorca Amateur Dramatics Society, and celebrated appearances as Buttons. Otherwise, I am mostly sedentary in a digital fashion, prone to only embracing the digitally peripatetic when inclined to write about this nomadic phenomenon.

I was here first then, if only on the stage at Alcudia's Casa Cultura. And before the subject became voguish, I was considering the island's initial political dalliance with digital nomadism.

Parties on Mallorca's left who have made the recent discovery dare not speak the name of he who originally pointed to the potential advantages of this nomadism. Were there such a thing as 'the Mallorcan play', it would be thoroughly bad luck to mention the B-word. For the left, and indeed some from the right, this is a word, a name to provoke convulsions - José Ramón Bauzá, a former president of the Balearics.

Following the disastrous election performance in 2015, José Ramón might have gone quietly, tail between his legs back to the family pharmacy in Marratxi. But no. He instead became a political nomad. Off he went to the Senate and then to the European Parliament. Moreover, he legged it from the Partido Popular and marched into Ciudadanos - a political career dead end move if ever there was one.

Nevertheless, and as a leading figure on the parliament's tourism committee, he has been, not that anyone in Mallorca's political ranks would give him credit for this, an at-times innovative voice. And so it was when he mapped out the possibilities for digital nomadism in Mallorca.

Ok, it may not have been an entirely new concept, but when Bauzá made proposals in May 2020, these seemed so out-there that few could get their heads around what he was going on about. They understand well enough now, as the Spanish government has mapped out plans that are a virtual carbon copy (tax incentives and all). The Palma PSOE tourism councillor's ideas for digital nomads for Playa de Palma were Bauzá Mark II. But no one, and I mean no one, has acknowledged that it was he who offered the blueprint. Poor form.

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As it happened, the tourism minister in the Canaries, Yaiza Castilla, was mentioning digital nomads around about the same time as Bauzá was in 2020. A promotional strategy to find alternatives for post-Covid tourism recovery was required. A new type of "long-stay client" needed to be sought - teleworkers and also people from the silver tourism sector: people in the final years of working and retirement.

Two years after Bauzá and Castilla were talking about digital nomads, media in Gran Canaria reported that the island had become the world's leading digital nomad destination (according to something known as the Nomad List). Castilla has continued to pursue this strategy, and so I have a sneaking suspicion that when Elena Navarro came up with her ideas for Playa de Palma, she was casting envious eyes in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean. Well off the pace, Mallorca was suddenly waking up to the possibilities.

And yes, there are possibilities. But what about the drawbacks? One of the attractions of Gran Canaria is apparently the accommodation. Available properties for digital nomads have increased, the preferences being for small hotels with common facilities and holiday rental homes. Some apartment complexes are said to have specific offers for a profile of 'tourist' with high purchasing power.

Nomad List estimates that, during 2022, the number of digital nomads passing through Gran Canaria will be in the region of 43,000. Were Mallorca to experience something similar, then what impact would there be, not least on what is already an overpriced property market suffering from a shortage of affordable homes? Economic benefits from high purchasing power, but at what cost socially?

Transformation of hotels. Now that sounds more like it. There again, isn't there meant to be the possibility of hotel conversion into residential accommodation? The tourism law from ten years ago raised this but led nowhere, so let's not get too excited about the latest law, even if in principle this conversion is a good idea. Meanwhile and during the pandemic, hotels in Mallorca did start to go down the nomad route and also provided a style of homeworking office and conferencing space. Maybe, therefore, it should be hotels which satisfy this new demand, just as they are poised to accept a different type of nomad - the so-called energy nomad.

On the Costa del Sol, a conference last Friday on tourism relations between Spain and the UK highlighted initiatives to attract energy nomads to warmer destinations in order to save on costs back home. And hotels would, generally speaking, be better adapted to the needs of these nomads. In Mallorca, as many will appreciate, homes can be freezing in winter.

Digital, energy, silver - these nomads are suddenly more fashionable than amdram panto nomads in Alcudia who have been at it for years. "Oh no they aren't!" "Oh yes they are!"