It's traffic more than people that the public are concerned about. | M. Miro

The fifth annual survey of public opinion on environmental issues undertaken by the Balearic Institute of Social Studies (IBES) finds that "massification" (overcrowding) is the greatest concern.

The overall result is positive for the environment. Its quality is good or very good where 54% of respondents are concerned, though this was down by four points compared with the survey in 2016.

In terms of costs versus benefits, 56% felt that the number of tourists is excessive, a rise of three per cent. This perception does vary quite significantly between age groups. With the youngest set - to the age of 24 - 69% think this. Among the over-65s only 35% have this perception. Such an age bias is probably not surprising; there was evidence at Saturday's "massification" demo of a predominantly youthful protester.

There is also a wide variation depending on location: 63% in Palma versus 51.4% in the rest of Majorca and down to 39% in Minorca. In Ibiza it is 56%. Palma is therefore where there is the highest perception of saturation, which is also no surprise.

So, the 56% who feel that tourist numbers are excessive place massification at the top of the list of environmental conservation concerns. When massification is broken down, it is the volume of cars rather than people which is the principal worry (36% cars, 30% people).

The report's author and the director of IBES, Gonzalo Adán, notes that over the past few years there has been a progressive reduction in the perception of environmental quality. This, he says, can almost exclusively be attributed to tourism. He adds, however, that there isn't a majority opinion in favour of restricting the number of tourists. The real concern lies with measures that mitigate the consequences of tourist numbers, and the volume of traffic is an indication of this.

He concludes that the survey reinforces the fact that tourism is the greatest source of wealth in the Balearics but that it acts as a warning about the consequences of excessive tourist numbers.

The survey, dubbed Ecobal, involved 600 interviews.