Celestí Alomar in Puerto Pollensa. | Miquel À. Cañellas


Celestí Alomar was the Balearic tourism minister responsible for the introduction of the ecotax in 2002, which was scrapped after the Partido Popular won the 2003 election. He is no longer a member of PSOE, as he quit the party over its support of the Mariano Rajoy government's application of Article 155 direct rule in Catalonia. In 2016, he gave his backing to the #SenseLímitsNoHiHaFutur manifesto (Without limits there is no future), which among other things sought limits to tourist numbers.

Twenty years on from the ecotax, he disputes a claim that the tax was a decisive factor in the 2003 election. Hoteliers, but only some he notes, supported the PP - "of course they did, but I don't think that decided the elections".

In terms of the current debate about tourist numbers, there are representatives from the hotel sector who share the view that there is tourist overcrowding.

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"It is an idea that is spreading and I hope that it will not be limited to this summer's debate. It is essential, for the good of the planet, that the GDP weight of tourism decreases*. The debate is not just about tourism. There is something broader, which is the transition to a different economic model. This is not to deny tourism. What needs to be done is to balance the economy so that the relative weight of tourism is less. And we cannot leave it to the market. There is the need for a state strategy and for involvement of all the sectors that are affected."

Regarding the need for limiting tourist numbers, Alomar adds: "There are many people who share this view. This summer has increased the support for a variety of reasons, such as the climate situation. What we cannot continue with is the current economic model. Following Covid, the market has chosen the Balearics as a business platform. The streets and squares fill up and investment funds have their operations centres here. Money passes into foreign hands. And then there is the stress on the public that this all this creates. The desire to do business and the need for preservation are confronting each other, and without public intervention the market will win."

* A joint analysis by the Balearic ministry for the economic model, tourism and employment and the Exceltur alliance for tourism excellence concluded that, in 2019, tourism GDP was 41.3% of total Balearic GDP.