People on the beach in Santa Ponsa. | NURIA RINCON


So Mallorca is back in the headlines again. After the so-called “booze ban”, now we apparently don’t want any tourists. Give the British press a bone, and you can be sure as (can’t say it), that they’ll not only be chewing on it, they’ll be making up their own stuff too. Why let a good headline get in the way of the truth? TOURIST GO HOME is the message and let’s be honest, it’s not a very welcoming one, is it? Grammatically incorrect, of course, but why let that get in the way of what you’re trying to achieve.

And to be honest, that is what is puzzling me, just exactly what are you trying to achieve? I highlighted a few weeks ago that a vote for Brexit in the UK was a vote from the older community, which has ultimately made freedom of movement for our younger people that much more difficult. So, whilst trying to deny an immigrant entrance into the UK, you’ve denied our younger people the opportunity to do the same in another country.

With their message, they are trying to drive people away from the tourist industry that is fundamental to the islands’ GDP. Someone tried to tell me the other week that tourism is only 11% of Spain’s GDP. That may well be true, but on our island it’s 45% and would hazard a guess that it is a lot higher than that when you take into account the third party businesses that support tourism.
Mallorca isn’t the only destination with this problem. Barcelona, the Canary Islands, Amsterdam, Venice, Japan and Hawaii are other examples. My family were in Croatia in the past couple of weeks and the same message was seen there too.

So what’s the beef amongst these protesters here in Mallorca? Too many tourists, lack of affordable housing, high cost of living, traffic congestion, impact on the environment and natural resources are the main factors, I am led to believe.

In my opinion, there’s a total lack of organisation and management here. Political parties with their own views are getting in the way of the problem. So, rather and sitting down like adults and discussing properly, they argue against each other. The “left” were in Government for 8 years and did absolutely nothing, and now they’re in opposition they’re voting against anything that the “right” proposes. As the right are a minority Government, depending on VOX to help them, nothing gets done or if it does, it’s painfully slow.

So let’s discuss each of their points

Too many tourists….

You may remember I interviewed Brad Robertson from Save The Med a couple of weeks ago. He said, “there’s too many of us, that’s not just tourists, that’s people living here too.” Mallorca isn’t like the Canaries, who have a whole year - round problem, the season is six months at best, and I’d say the true busy part is June to September. Tour operators aren’t the major problem as if you go back to years gone by, there were a lot more and that just isn’t the case now. It is the growth of the low-cost airlines, the car rentals, the Airbnb market and the illegal lets that are now the problem.

A lot of this can’t be blamed on foreign investment as Mallorca’s biggest Hotel chains, Melia, Fergus, Iberostar, Riu and Barcelo are all Spanish owned and run. The airport is run by the Spanish state owned company AENA. Mallorca’s Son Sant Joan airport is the third largest in Spain, with only Madrid and Barcelona having greater numbers. Despite that, the airport is expanding the terminal buildings and more car parking space which is not for cars parking, it’s for rental cars to have more space. When I checked into the car park last weekend, half of the second floor was dedicated to a car hire company.

Lack of affordable housing….

It is true that foreign investors have driven up the prices of property, but there are also many Spanish people that have second holiday homes that they use in the holidays or rent out. My neighbours where I live are from Madrid, and we only see them during the holidays. Rental prices are too high but with a lack of properties and demand so high, there doesn’t seem to be an answer. Rent caps have been put forward by the opposition PSOE but considering they were in power for eight years and did nothing, it’s laughable really. You have to ask who owns these properties, and I think you’ll find the majority are Spanish owned. So would any property owner be happy if their incomes were capped? This is not just a Mallorca problem, my sister in the UK has her eldest son currently living at home with his girlfriend as they can’t afford to rent or buy there either.

Promoters, in order to get their building licence, should be forced to build a percentage of affordable housing and make those properties unsellable for a long time period. Like they did on the properties in Son Caliu behind Mercadona. There are plenty of Old military plots in and around Palma that could be turned into affordable housing, and any old hotels or apartment blocks should be converted too.

High cost of living…..

We are an island and therefore the majority of our goods must be imported, making them immediately more expensive. There was an increase when the pandemic hit and as yet as far as I can see there hasn’t been any reductions since we have got back to normal. If the demand is there, companies are less likely to reduce their prices.

Palma's Via Cintura gets very congested with traffic.

Traffic congestion….

If, like me, you’ve driven the Via Cintura in the winter, there is still traffic congestion and it can still be a nightmare. Of course, that traffic increases in the summer with the car hire and coaches. The bus services I think are pretty good, but the Palma Metro and the rail links, particularly to the south of the island, need to be looked at. There have been calls for car hire limits, but apart from Formentera as far as I am aware, there doesn’t seem to be one in place. A park and ride service into the centre of Palma wouldn’t be a bad idea. What about utilising the huge car park at Mallorca Outlets, for instance? It would drive traffic there to shop, and then you could hop on a bus for more central Palma shopping if you wished. Real Mallorca has a huge car park that gets used 19 days a year for their home games and mostly in the off season. That would be another perfect park and ride stop.

Impact on the island and its natural resources….

I have two words to say about this….Tourist Tax. The tax was introduced to help inject funds into conserving the environment and to make tourism more sustainable for the island’s ever-increasing population in the high-season. Data provided by the authorities show that around €12 million will be raised each year as a result of the tourist tax.

Mallorca is a beautiful island of contrast. From the beautiful beaches in the North, to the mountains of the West, the caves and coves of the East and the bustling busy nightlife of the South. There is something for absolutely everyone. If ever there was a destination built for tourism, it is our island. It hasn’t been one of the most popular destinations in the World for the last 50 years for nothing. It is, in my opinion, still one of the best holiday destinations, an island with turquoise blue waters, secret coves, soft golden sands, lush green foliage, rugged mountains, picturesque villages, amazing cuisine, an up-and-coming wine industry, bustling nightlife and a vibrant capital city. But we must keep it that way, and therefore, as I said above, it must be managed in a right and proper manner.