Cruise ship tourists in Palma. | Julian Aguirre


Miquel Rosselló is from Puerto Pollensa. A graduate in law and political science, he has published a thesis entitled 'Touristified City and Residential Segregation'. Of Puerto Pollensa, he says that he had to move away, as did friends of his age, because homes had become unaffordable; he currently lives in Barcelona. "It's the consequence of an economic model that has prevailed in my town, where tourist rentals predominate and have ended up removing the opportunity for new generations to live in their place of birth."

While he has his experience of Puerto Pollensa, his thesis focuses on Palma. In his view: "Low-quality tourism entails making residents feel more vulnerable, while high-quality tourism opts for second homes, which makes life more expensive for residents and expels them because land and housing becomes highly speculative."

He has analysed different waves of tourism that have affected Palma. There is a fourth wave, what he terms the postmodern tourism boom. "It focuses on bungalows and small beaches and coves with bucolic sunsets, just like an Estrella Damm advert. Gone are the times of the first boom, when tourists stayed in tourist destinations that are now mature, such as Arenal or Magalluf. Later it expanded to the centre of Palma and now it is in the villages of the Tramuntana. Speculation for where there was no tourism is expanding in a massive way."

Related news

Residents of Arenal, he points out, are now a more vulnerable population. "There is not even a supermarket open because it is a ghost town in winter. They've been asking for years to redevelop Plaça dels Nins, and that has been postponed for as many years."

In parts of the city where tourism is introduced, housing becomes a speculative asset. "It happened in the centre and now it is accelerating away from the centre. It is more profitable to rent to a foreigner than to a resident."

This dynamic has caused housing prices in the municipality to skyrocket in recent years, so more and more families, including the middle class, can be forced into desperate measures. "We might think that the problem of slums has disappeared, but that's not the case. Now there are people hiding in the basements of Palma. This is the invisible population."

Current tourist effects include the expulsion of residents and the vulnerability and abandonment of areas such as Playa de Palma and Magalluf. He advocates supporting local commerce in promoting neighbourhoods as well as putting a cap on rent prices and limiting the purchase of second homes by non-residents.