BEACHES at s'Arenal (in the Bay of Palma), Alcudia, Son Saura (on Minorca) and Benirràs (on Ibiza) are showing the highest concentration of use in the Balearics, according to a report on research into tourist sustainability. The document has been produced by the Centre for Research into Tourism in the Balearics (CITTIB) under the joint authorship of Neus Andreu, Macià Blázquez, Sofía López, Llorenc Mas, Jaume Mateu, Felip Morell, Ivan Murray and Gloria Truyols. During the Summer of 2002, the team quantified and analysed the use of 18 beaches in the Balearic islands chosen as being representative of different types (town-based; on the edge of built-up areas; and natural, undeveloped areas). The report indicated that the beaches with the highest concentration of users tend to be town-based, except in the case of Benirrás beach on Ibiza which showed a high level of usage even though it is not linked to a town. Alone, the beaches of Palma and Alcudia showed such concentrated use that the numbers of users accounted for a half of all those included in the study. A point to draw attention to is not only the swell of numbers of beach users and bathers but the density of numbers in relation to the surface area of the beaches chosen for the research. With this criterion in mind, recordings at the top of the scale were registered in Benirràs, Son Saura, Cala Agulla and ses Fonts de n´Alis.
The saturation index measures the degree of congestion of the beaches according to three principal variables: the daily density of users (with a standard minimum of 7.5 square metres per user, according to POOT, the master plan for tourism), the form of transport used by visitors and the level of urbanization of the coastal area under survey. The results are measured in values of between 0.5 and 5. From all this information, an index describing tourist concentration emerges, in which with a rating of less than 1.2 beaches do not register as being saturated; from 1.21 to 1.6 only somewhat saturated; from 1.61 to 2 saturated, and more than 2.01 particularly saturated. According to this classification, the town-based beaches of Palma and Alcudia should show levels lower than 2. They in fact reach 2.57 and 2.29 respectively. Natural beaches away from urban development should present values lower than 1.2. Beaches in Minorca and Formentera were those that came closest to this ideal. Following on after the beaches of Palma, Alcúdia, Son Saura and Benirràs, the most saturated are: Cala Agulla, ses Fonts de n´Alis, Cala Mesquida and den Bossa.


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