GOB stage a protest against Balearic government tourism policies. | Jaume Morey


Tourism minister Biel Barceló's dual announcements this week - the campaign to inform residents about sustainable tourism and the value of tourism and the fact that the Balearics cannot take any more increase in tourist numbers in high summer - have provoked expected responses.

Business associations and unions agree with the government that it is necessary to take steps to increase tourism quality (another of Barceló's themes) and to lengthen the summer season, thereby reducing the impact of seasonality.

But as to whether the Balearic Islands are at their limit in terms of being able to cope with the high numbers of tourists, opinions diverge. The Afedeco traders' association says that this is a "risky" diagnosis, while the other traders' association - Pimeco - and the Balearic confederation of business associations believe that placing limits on numbers is not the solution. There needs instead to be a message that conveys a better image of tourism to the public.

The travel agencies' association, the CCOO union and the Majorca Tourist Board all agree with the messages regarding sustainability and quality, but the general view from all sources is that there aren't too many tourists.

One organisation which does take issue with the government is the environmental pressure group GOB. It might be recalled that Barceló's party, Més, is often styled as "eco-nationalist", but despite this environmental element, GOB accuses him and the government of engaging in "outrageous propaganda". The sustainable tourism campaign is all about pandering to the wishes of unions and business associations, GOB maintains. It argues that there should be a decrease in tourist numbers and implies that the government is merely coming out with platitudes and not providing any concrete definitions or solutions.

In order to emphasise its stance, GOB yesterday staged a protest outside the tourism ministry against the massive numbers and the government's tourism policies. GOB's spokesperson, Margalida Ramis, said that Majorca is totally full and added ironically that if someone comes to the island and has problems with finding anywhere to stay, the ministry will offer "a unique experience to enjoy this paradise that is being destroyed". The parody that GOB staged also drew attention to the availability of rental accommodation and so to the contentious issue of how to regulate holiday rentals.