Tourists in the centre of Palma.

14-06-2016Miquel A. Cañellas

Overcrowding in Palma because of the influx of thousands of cruise-ship passengers is very much a theme of the moment. It was reinforced by the arrival on Monday of the mega cruise ship Harmony Of The Seas, making its inaugural visit to Palma.

The discussion of overcrowding has led the regional government, in the form of tourism minister Biel Barceló, to advocate a limit being placed on the number of ships on given days. But what do various business associations think?

Their general opinion is that the public in Palma do not appreciate the economic benefit that this type of tourism has for the city and for the island, so they are advising politicians to take care in what they say.

Miquel Puigserver is the president of APEAM, the association for maritime businesses, and he says that it is not the case that cruise tourism "saturates" Palma. The president of Majorca's restaurants association, Alfonso Robledo, points out that the overcrowding occurs in two or three streets but not throughout the old part of the city. He doesn't believe that there should be a limit placed on the number of ships and adds that more of the city should be opened up to cruise tourists so that they aren't concentrated only in the old town.

Jesús Sánchez of ABONE, the nightclubs and entertainment association, suggests that the controversy would go away if guidelines were established to coordinate the scheduling of ships' stopovers. The ANGED association of large retailers says that it is in favour of cruise tourism as the economic benefit for the city is "enormous".

Rafael Ballester of the Afedeco smaller traders association believes that whatever wealth is created for Majorca should be maintained. He observes that changing stopover schedules would be complicated, given that they are programmed a year in advance. And for the taxi-drivers, Antoni Cladera supports the number of ships arriving. "The volume of business that it gives us is very important." He suggests, though, that there might be a rationalisation of arrival times.

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