Gatherings at the Sa Foradada viewpoint in Deya have been highlighted as evidence of "saturation". | Pilar Pellicer


With August having ended and brought with it all the discussion of tourist saturation, the Balearics may be on course for a repeat of 2019's tourist numbers - a record 16.5 million.

The final tally will obviously not be known for some months and figures for August itself won't be confirmed until the start of October. For now, the statistics for July are awaited with interest. The Frontur survey for July is due to be published, though even this doesn't give a complete picture, as this is only for foreign tourism.

For June, the tourist total was slightly down on 2019, and figures for Palma Airport showed a small decrease in foreign passengers but an increase in national passengers. Again, these don't tell the whole story because of travel by sea.

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Nevertheless, the anticipation is that 2022 will close with a total roughly in line with 2019 and so a growth in tourist numbers of almost 75% compared with twenty years ago - 16.5 million versus 9.5 million.

Growth in passenger numbers at Son Sant Joan is similar to that in the number of tourists. In 2002, there were 17.7 million passengers (arriving and departing); in 2019, there were 29.7 million, an increase of 68%.

There has also been growth in the number of tourist accommodation places. New hotel building partly explains this, although there has been relatively little of this since the early years of the century; certainly by comparison with the late eighties and nineties. There was hotel growth as a result of the 2012 tourism law. This placed an emphasis on modernisation, and so there was huge investment in upgrading star categories - to four-star, four-star superior and five-star - in exchange for permitting hotels to build additional floors.

Holiday rentals, agrotourism and rural hotels have played their part in the growth - from 280,000 places in 2002 to 425,000 as there now are.