Hugh Morgan and his family have lived in Mallorca for generations. | Javier


Hugh Morgan is a British tourist industry legend whose personal and professional relationships with the Balearics stretch back some 55 years and are still going strong today - he spends half the year living in the centre of Palma. “I love Mallorca, always have done, it’s wonderful. When I step off the plane I feel like I’m home,” he said. And yes, he has watched it change and grow into a Mecca for tourism.

“And the trouble with Meccas is that sometimes people get trampled on, so to a certain extent I sympathise with the protests against mass tourism. But these demonstrations are not anti-British or anti-tourists, they are anti-tourism policy and that is where the very complicated problem lies. I have a friend who works in air traffic control and he told me that the other day they handled 1,600 flights in a day when the previous record was 1,200 - that’s busier than Gatwick. Then all those passengers have to move from the airport, be it by coach, taxi or hire car and that clogs up the roads obviously. And then, when it rains, everyone heads for Palma and it’s gridlock. There’s been fresh talk of park and ride schemes but what is actually being done?

Knee-jerk reactions
“Knee-jerk reactions, limits and restrictions are not the answer. As the great forerunner of package tourism to Spain and Mallorca, my former boss Harry Goodman, once said to me: ‘We’ve got the planes and the capacity so we can take people on holiday to wherever they want’. If, as forecast, Palma Airport is going to handle 20 million passengers this year and say they spend an average of 1,000 euros, that’s 20 billion euros. We’re talking big money, a serious amount of revenue. Mallorca depends on tourism and needs that kind of revenue but I think it’s time for an end to petty politics and for a serious, constructive adult conversation to be had and a long-term strategy introduced.

What Mallorca needs is a proper tourism structure and there are some very clever and highly experienced people on the island who know what they are talking about and the problem could be dealt with. They may not be politicians, but get them involved because the problem of mass tourism is not going to be solved overnight. Mallorca, as I’ve said, is a wonderful island. It’s paradise. All of us lucky enough to live here should be extremely grateful and look after the island, manage it properly. Sometimes I wonder what the thinking is.

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"For example, digging up the Paseo Maritimo in Palma, that’s not the fault of the tourists. Then there’s the traffic. Every morning with so many people driving into Palma from all across the island to work or go to the university. The infrastructure here is first class, the public bus service is far better than anything in the UK, for example, you’re got the trains plus the TIB non metropolitan bus service, let’s use it. So yes, when people are trapped in traffic jams day after day, in and out of season, I can understand why they get frustrated and are demanding action.

Why are so many properties empty, not just in Palma but in other areas of the island; it just acerbates the housing problem. There is a lot of money out there and people from all over the world will pay 10 million-plus euros for a property in Mallorca because it’s the perfect destination and more will come. I said years ago that Mallorca would become the new St. Tropez, Costa Azul or Portofino, for example, and simply trying to deter people from coming by putting up tourist taxes will not work. Look at all the excellent boutique five-star hotels in Palma, they’re always rammed full. It’s like the Mallorca tourist industry is on steroids, but the island can’t afford to bite the hand that feeds it - how many times have I said that before?

Fantastic events
“The island needs some joined up planning. Palma has the most amazing Cathedral, but the queues to get in are enormous. It’s a vicious circle. The island has some fantastic attractions, massive first-class international sporting events and festivals like Mallorca Live, but the island can’t afford to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. It’s not going to be easy, but I think it’s time for some serious talking and a proper, grown-up strategy drawn up for the future,” he said.