CONSERVATIONIST group, Ecologists in Action voiced their agreement yesterday with the views of central government Environment minister, Cristina Narbona, in which she said that the days of sun, sea and sand, tourism are numbered.
Her announcement is founded on the belief that the coastal areas of the Islands are under enormous, unsustainable environmental and economic pressure due to urban development. The group further calls on the Environment ministry to set up an official strategy for the management of coastal areas to avoid overbuilding.
Narbona's claims were criticised, however, by the Balearic Tourism minister, Joan Flaquer, who maintained that sun and sea tourism will continue to be the driving force of the Spanish tourist sector. To speak of this kind of tourism being outmoded in the Balearics when in July, the Islands enjoyed a 20 point lead over any other tourist area in the country, is not doing us any favours; and neither is it realistic to speak of the traditional form of tourism being out of date when it provides so many work opportunities to so many people Flaquer commented of the central government Environment minister's views. He felt that sun and sea tourism only needs some rough edges filed off and a few corrections made.
The ecologists signal that the obsessive occupation of land right on the seafront, the most fragile area, is causing the destruction of the beaches and coastal districts where the tourist industry has its most concentrated development. This tourist trend, they add, has begun to give clear signals of coming to an end, as has been confirmed by experts in the sector of tourism and land management.
Faced with this situation, Ecologists in Action consider it a matter of urgency that the Environment ministry set up a Strategic Plan for Coastal Management integrally linked with legislation. It should analyse, they said, the various coastal ecosystems and establish specific measures for protection of the most important stretches of coastline.
The group warns that nearly 8'000 kilometres of Spanish coastline are under enormous pressure due to touristic and urban development with the result that natural environment and countryside is being eroded with the active collaboration of local government.
The conservationists lay the blame for this situation at the door of governmental organisations who, they claim, have given in to the interests of construction companies, authorising urban sprawl, beach regeneration, the building of marinas and shopping centres, the widening of already existing roads, and installing golf courses and theme parks, etcetera.
Many town councils, say the ecologists, are caught in a viciuos circle of having to recategorise land from being country areas to becoming town areas to ensure an income from construction work.