Tourist activity is now "everywhere". | Teresa Ayuga


Climent Picornell is professor emeritus of geography at the University of the Balearic Islands. The author of numerous books, he is a highly respected observer of and commentator on social change in Mallorca over the decades.

His latest book - Postals de Ciutat; Caminant per Palma (Postcards of the City; Walking in Palma) - will be published shortly. History, tourism, gentrification, the pandemic; these are among subjects he covers. And he writes from a position of knowledge, having lived in Palma's La Lonja district for 52 years, first renting and then buying a home.

Climent Picornell, professor emeritus of geography and Mallorcan author
Climent Picornell. Photo: Jaume Morey.

"I couldn't do that now because of the exorbitant prices. The neighbourhood has completely changed. Now they are all Germans and Swedes. Community meetings are held in English."

There has been much talk in recent years about tourism limits. Criticism of tourism is sometimes considered to be tourismphobia. Picornell admits to being a tourismphobe, "but only if people believe that tourism cannot have limits".

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"You have to be able to criticise if it evolves in a certain way because, in addition to the large economic numbers, there are environmental and sociocultural impacts. The sociocultural transformation began with the first tourism and with a double standard - very strict for residents, but tourists could do whatever they wanted. This said, those first contacts were positive because they allowed us to see and verify that there were other ways of living.

"Setting limits doesn't mean being against tourism; it is about containing and reducing overcrowding and saturation. I myself am surrounded by illegal tourist apartments. Before, tourist activity was very limited to certain areas and establishments. Now it's everywhere. Nobody disputes that tourism was the vector that transformed our agrarian society into a more developed one, but limits must be set. And, above all, we don't have to thank the hoteliers that we wear shoes and that we no longer drive carts. Enough of these types of arguments. A little dignity."

His book is essentially about the transformation of the city. "In Palma there used to be places, in the sense of references, places with history or that you made your own because of their characteristics. Now there are non-places: C&A, Zara, the airport, Mercadona, El Corte Inglés, Louis Vuitton ... . We can go to those places, but you don't make them yours. There were traditional businesses that were places. They have disappeared. My closest store to buy tomatoes is El Corte Inglés. The centre of Palma had bars, shops and cinemas where people from the outskirts went. Young people went downtown to have a drink, go to the movies or have dinner. Now everything is franchises. The prices are prohibitive and there is a disproportionate number of ice cream parlours aimed at cruise passengers. All this has displaced traditional businesses."

Picornell concludes: "The problem is that the market is all of Europe and we have the least purchasing power, which displaces us and puts us at a disadvantage."