Spring break for Spansih students on Mallorca. | M.A. CAÑELLAS

In March last year, the Balearic tourism minister, Iago Negueruela, met hotelier representatives in Mallorca and made clear that there had to be a “joint fight” against tourism of excesses and in particular against “anti-social study trips”. There was to be “zero tolerance” of any type of tourism that did not respect rules of coexistence with the resident population (and indeed tourists who are not of this “type”) so as “not to jeopardise the image” of the island.

The study trips, a misnomer if ever there was one, were the holidays for Spanish students. The meeting last March was one of the first times that the government had explicitly referred to them in the context of tourism of excesses, a correct reference and made more so by the fact that the small number of hotels which accommodate the students are in parts of the island to which the tourism of excesses law applies - Arenal, Magalluf and Playa de Palma. This type of holiday is also offered in Alcudia, while Cala Ratjada has a different profile - spring breaks for young Germans from sports teams.

Los viajes de fin de curso a Mallorca dejan ya más de 850 positivos por covid
Over 200 students sent to Covid hotel in Palma.

Regardless of resort and the law, excesses are the norm. Residents have been complaining for years, so have other tourists. Town halls hate these trips because of the vandalism, mess and noise and demands made of police. Only certain businesses derive a benefit. All this negative impact finally appeared to make the government wake up after the controversy of 2021 - over 200 students sent to supposedly isolate at the government’s Covid hotel in Palma. It took that row to prompt Negueruela to suggest that he would like to put an end to the so-called study trips. They were bad for the island’s image, as is the case with any other manifestation of tourism of excesses.

As it happens, or so a recent report has highlighted, demand for these trips has apparently fallen by around twenty per cent. There are a number of reasons why. One is an increase in price. Another has to do with the tourism of excesses law - the limited supply of ‘free’ alcohol in all-inclusive hotels - and with bylaws designed to prevent the ‘botellón’ street drinking parties. In addition, venues for events are seemingly becoming more difficult to find, a direct consequence of what happened with a concert at Palma’s bullring in 2021, while it is said that there is less hotel supply. This is due to greater demand from other tourists for weeks when some hotels would have otherwise faced comparatively low occupancy.

If not putting an end to study trips, then market forces are contributing to a reduction, a source of information for this in the report having been Pedro Iriondo of Viajes Kontiki, a travel agency in Mallorca which is closely associated with this type of tourism. I have to say that I was quite surprised to learn this, as Iriondo is a former president of the Fomento del Turismo, the Mallorca Tourist Board. The board’s role may have diminished significantly from the days when this private organisation ran Mallorca’s tourism promotion, but it is a body committed to the good image and reputation of the island.

Those of you with a long enough memory may recall that Pedro Iriondo, when he was the president, faced calls for his resignation when he said in April 2011 that low-cost airlines (easyJet and Ryanair) would never bring quality tourists to the island, he having said in an interview three months previously that “for the idea that we have in Mallorca for bringing a higher quality tourism, low cost does us a disservice”.