Expect rather more than a few people and a dog for the "massification" demo on 23 September.

03-08-2011Joan Torres

The romance of "massification"
The demo against tourist "massification" that is scheduled for this coming Saturday has certainly been attracting its fair share of advance publicity. The crowds that might be attracted will be hoping that there's no repeat of Friday's storm. If there is, the Plaça Espanya will very quickly be de-massified.

This publicity, we learned from the organisers, who go under the title of Assemblea 23-S, recalls a time of romantic travellers and of an agrarian economy before tourism was imposed by the Francoists. It all sounded terribly idealistic. We looked back to that time of romantic travellers at the turn of the twentieth century, when agricultural workers suffered appalling conditions, when the vines had been devastated by pest and when there was mass emigration in search of a better life elsewhere.

Moving forward to the tourism "boom" of the 1960s, we noted that agricultural workers were provided with alternative employment - in tourism itself or in construction. There was an acknowledgement that the "Balearisation" of the coasts had caused harm and that workers in the tourism industry didn't have great job security and still don't. But likewise nor did or do agricultural workers, for whom there are concerns of seasonality (just as with tourism), low pay and the vagaries of the weather and of pest.

As readers were observing, it's one thing to take issue with tourism but identifying adequate and sensible alternatives is a very different matter.


Tourist tax winter freeze?
Més in Minorca suggested that there was an agreement that the tourist tax wouldn't be doubled in the low season. The party had been lobbying for this, fearing the harm that an increase would have on an already difficult low-season situation in Minorca. The agreement enabled Més in Minorca to support the government's spending plan for 2018, but later the government said that there was no agreement.

Podemos, meanwhile, were having none of this. Doubling the tax means doubling the tax - summer and winter. Despite the government saying that there was no agreement, it does seem as if there is to be further debate about exactly how this doubled tax is to be implemented.


Saturation in Santorini
Against the background of tourist limits, holiday rentals regulations and "massification", we have been looking at situations in other European destinations. The latest was the Greek island of Santorini, where the island's mayor has asked the Greek government to declare the island "touristically saturated". Limits to tourists are being sought as is some action against rentals websites, such as Airbnb, which are said to be "wreaking havoc". It all sounded very familiar.

And on this theme, the secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organisation, Taleb Rifai, was speaking in China at the start of the week about the social problems being caused by technological platforms for tourism services, which is what the organisation now calls "collaborative economy" websites like Airbnb. Tourismphobia, he observed, is a major challenge. He noted that if he were a resident of "saturated" destinations such as Barcelona, Venice and Dubrovnik, where saturation problems because of rentals are exacerbated by the saturation of cruise passengers who don't spend any money, then he too would be annoyed.


The French on strike
The French air-traffic controllers never need much of an excuse to go on strike, and so the national day of action against Macron's planned labour reforms offered them yet another opportunity. There were the inevitable cancellations (thirty in Palma) as well as delays. Ryanair's Kenny Jacobs said that enough was enough, and he wasn't the only one.


Steroids and stabbings
The Guardia Civil had turned their attention to a different type of drugs operation. This was against the illegal trafficking of steroids and various other substances. It was the largest such operation ever in Europe in terms of the amount of drugs that were seized - more than four million doses.

The Guardia and Calvia police were meantime attending the scene of a mass brawl in Magalluf. It had ended by the time they arrived, but three people were left with stab wounds, one of them in a serious condition. It had apparently started because of an argument over a girl. Those involved were British. Two arrests were made.


In other news, the first Christmas lights were being put up in Palma, prompting the thought that the town hall's councillor for infrastructure, Rodrigo Romero, was seeking to avoid the criticism of last year regarding the tardiness with which the lights were installed. And McDonald's McDelivery service started. The home delivery service is as yet only available via six restaurants in Palma; a seventh (Porto Pi) will be added next month.

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Turpin / Hace over 3 years

A key element in the joy of visiting anywhere as a tourist is interaction with the local community. That and the environment have always made Mallorca our favourite destination. We have been welcomed by strangers, advised and guided by people proud of the heritage of the island and shared laughter and wine with locals from every kind of background.

Having been regulars for so many years we decided there could be no better place to invest and, eventually, perhaps to retire. We had hoped that buying property might give us both an opportunity to visit much more frequently and also offset some of the costs by renting (probably almost exclusively to the many friends and colleagues we have constantly promoted the island to over the years).

Having spent an entire career in the Creative and Cultural Industries, I had also hoped that we might be able to develop business opportunities that would benefit both local employment and a platform by which local artists might gain wider exposure for their talents to a more international audience.

I am only relieved that we made no hard and fast financial investment in the Island before the latest round of legislation came into play.

I can totally understand that, within some pockets of development there has been a disproportionate influx of tourists (although I have to assume they were encouraged into these areas in the first place by local businesses keen to generate income) but to implement blanket interventions that result in the whole industry suffering simply beggars belief.

These new legislations smack of Nativism at its worst. This is the same mind-set as those Brexiteers who voted to cut Great Britain off from the rest of the world emplyed. For an island that has been inhabited by humans since 7000 BC you would have imagined that Mallorca would have developed a more cosmopolitan approach to its tourist offer by now.

Sad days indeed for those of us who love the island and no longer feel welcomed.

+3-

Pollensa1946 / Hace over 3 years

"a time of romantic travellers and of an agrarian economy before tourism was imposed by the Francoists. It all sounded terribly idealistic"

Idealistic, yes exactly. I remember a time when much of Spain was a third world country where you could catch dysentery from the foul public toilets and you were very lucky to avoid food poisoning in the average restuarant. Those proud farmers had first world prosperity imposed upon them? LOL! On a happier note we have just returned from our regular Sept visit to Mallorca and found no trace of anti-tourism. In fact quite the opposite, a warm welcome. Be back next May.

+5-