The President of Germany, Johannes Rau, arrived in Palma yesterday amidst a massive security operation, at the end of his official visit to Spain. Eager to see how the German community lives in Majorca and its relationship with the Majorcan community, Rau met over 300 local dignitaries and leading lights of the local business, political and social scene at a special reception in la Lonja before addressing the gathering. Interested to learn about Majorca's green projects during his 24-hour visit, he kicked off his whirlwind tour of the island by stressing the need for a tourist industry which is kind on Majorca's culture and environment. During his speech he spoke of the highs and lows of the German tourism boom in Majorca, which has an estimated 50.000 residents. Rau said that last year some 11 million Germans came to Spain spending three times the amount spent in Germany by visitors from overseas, which is money which helps to create jobs and develop new infrastructure. But on the other hand the German president said mass tourism blocks up the roads, construction creates excess waste and pollution and excessive consumption of water and energy. There's still a lot of work to be done to reach a balance between what people want to do in their free time, economic development and the protection of the environment. Rau was keen to point out that thanks to tourism income in Majorca is the highest in Spain, but he added that measures are needed to ensure that all parties involved benefit from tourism, especially the environment. The president said that he fully understands that the relationship between local residents and tourists may sometimes become strained. In the summer there are ten times as many visitors than residents, I fully understand that at times, residents will feel throttled and feel that their lives and lifestyles are threatened. But, with regards to Majorca being invaded, losing its identity and becoming a concrete paradise for tourists where services are deficient and prices too high, Rau said each party has to understand the other. He spoke highly of the hospitality and tolerance of the Majorcans and praised those Majorcans who are working hard at making sure Germans and Majorcans live together in harmony.
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