There will be 3,700 additional hotel places in Playa de Palma this summer and next, and they will be the result of the building of four new hotels and redevelopment of 26 others.
This increase, allowed under the tourism law, is concerning the town hall. It does not believe that it conforms with a sustainable tourism model. Antoni Noguera, deputy mayor for urban planning and the model of the city, argues that no thought has been given to facilities and services as a consequence of the increased number of rooms. "It will have a clear impact on capacity of the beach as well as for water and sanitation resources." He notes that while a resident consumes an average of 110 litres of water per day, a tourist can use up to three times as much.
"We are playing with the future of the sustainable city through a blank cheque (for construction) in this tourist area. We cannot allow the city to be mortgaged." He accepts that tourism is essential but insists that there has to be sustainable growth. To do otherwise will result in the collapse of municipal services.
The growth, Noguera points out, is the result of the tourism law of the last regional government. The decree that the current administration recently approved on building development returned rules for such development to those envisaged by the redevelopment plan for Playa de Palma (PRI), as had been called for by the town halls in Palma, Llucmajor and also Calvia in order to prevent the carte blanche of the tourism law.
Under the law, additions to existing hotels in order to increase their star classifications were allowed for a period of five years, which ends in 2017. In many instances, though, these have been added to ones permitted by the PRI. This has led, says the director for urban planning, Joan Riera, to disproportionate increases.
The correction under the decree will mean that building work will have to abide by the rules of the PRI, something which itself might be revised. Riera observes that there are some things that aren't quite working with this but that this is not only an issue for Palma.
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