Spanish students arriving for their 'study trips'. | Miquel À. Cañellas


On Wednesday, the CEO of Meliá Hotels International, Gabriel Escarrer, advocated the "eradication" of so-called study trips, i.e. end-of-course student holidays. "These have nothing to do with studies. They contribute absolutely nothing."

Escarrer has previously been highly critical of these holidays. He was now speaking about them in the context of proposals for the reformulation of tourism strategy in the face of threats posed by overtourism, such as gentrification and environmental deterioration, and which are generating growing social unrest in the Balearics and other parts of Spain.

He is also the president of the Exceltur alliance for tourism excellence, and this organisation has produced an 80-point manifesto entitled 'Good tourism: The tourism that we all want'.

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Accompanied by other Exceltur representatives and the Mallorcan who is Spain's secretary-of-state for tourism, Rosario Sánchez, Escarrer made his observation about the student holidays (which in Mallorca are mainly by Spanish students) in the framework of his total rejection of tourism of excesses - a key issue for the rethinking of tourism strategy. "It is not the tourism that we want and it goes against the manifesto that we have presented today."

The Meliá CEO said that he was in favour of limits where there is no room for further growth, adding that different measures should be applied depending on carrying capacity limits and where these have been exceeded. "We must advocate zero growth."

He voiced concern about the protests in the Balearics, the Canaries and Andalusia against saturation. However, he accepted that "these demonstrations help to raise awareness", even if they can make politicians move by adopting positions that are sometimes "no more than patches".

Rosario Sánchez valued the Exceltur initiative "very positively as it is in line with the philosophy of the government of Spain for balanced tourism".