Playa de Palma in high summer. | Anja Schmidt


Turespaña, the Spanish government's tourism agency, is to conduct a survey to measure the social sustainability of tourism based on the perceptions of residents.

This survey will seek opinions regarding tourist overcrowding and any negative impact of tourism growth over recent years. Turespaña has classified municipalities according to the scale of tourism, the first of three profiles including Palma and certain other municipalities in Mallorca and the Balearics; these amount to around thirty in total.

The objective is to analyse the problem of overcrowding and then draw up appropriate strategies to solve or mitigate it.

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Julio López Astor, Turespaña's deputy director of knowledge and tourism studies, says that the intention of the survey is to "put a scientific layer on the debate about overcrowding and know what a community thinks". "There is a silent majority whose opinion often doesn't come to light."

"It is necessary to develop indicators that are easy to interpret but sufficiently representative of the underlying reality that can serve as future statistical references in measuring the social sustainability of tourism," explains López Astor. An application of resulting information will be the directing of tourism promotion.

"We are going to know what people think and how they view it (overcrowding). The most important thing is to understand how it affects the population consulted in each case, to know where these perceptions come from and to measure them."

The consultations will be carried out in August and November, months that equate in most cases to peak tourism and the start of the low season.