Pollensa has more holiday rental properties than anywhere else in Mallorca. | Archive


Figures from the Council of Mallorca's tourism department merely confirm what has been known for years - that Pollensa has way more holiday rentals (legal) than anywhere else on the island. There are 14,298 places, or beds if one prefers. These are places in 2,491 properties. Since 2012, the number of places has increased from 6,178 and the number of properties from 1,179.

A curiosity about Pollensa as a holiday municipality is that these holiday rental places are almost double the number of hotel places - 7,474 in 82 establishments. A great contrast is with Alcudia, which has the second highest number of holiday rental places (8,444), but more than three times as many hotel places - 27,999 in 93 establishments. Alcudia may not have that many more hotels but it does have some very large complexes of a kind that don't exist in Pollensa.

The history of tourism development in the two municipalities explains why this is. Pollensa was a tourism force, relatively speaking, far earlier than Alcudia. As well as the historic hotels that emerged over the first three decades of the twentieth century, there were the summer houses. And it was these houses that laid the foundations for a holiday rental business, one that expanded with the building of villas.

As Pollensa was already well endowed with accommodation, there wasn't the development that occurred elsewhere at the time of the 1960s/1970s boom. By and large, Alcudia was purpose-built in accordance with the project for what was called the City of the Lakes. Pollensa had no need for anything similar, and the town hall in fact expressly forbad the construction of large hotel complexes and limited the height of what could be built. (The Pollensa Park is, shall we say, something of an anomaly.)

So, Pollensa has long been a municipality with an unusually high number of holiday rental properties. These are part of its tourism DNA, you might say. And the holiday rental sector is determined not to lose any of the properties, many of which are dotted around the countryside of what is a sizeable municipality.

This brings us to the rather odd situation in which the mayor of Pollensa, Martí March, finds himself. A member of the PSOE socialists, he was a PSOE minister for eight years prior to his election as mayor in 2023. His party has been against the process initiated by the current Partido Popular conservative government to apply its administrative simplification legislation to thousands of illegal properties on so-called rustic land (meaning that the majority of them are in rural settings).

These properties, many of which were built decades ago, have been 'out of planning'. Not all can be legalised because they are on land with specific protected classification, but a great number can be. When this was presented to parliament, PSOE and other opposition parties argued that none of the properties subject to legalisation should be allowed to have a holiday rental licence. The government, by then suddenly faced with the tourism overcrowding crisis, accepted this argument. The properties can be legalised, but they can't be used as holiday rentals. Moreover, those which have a licence will lose it.

The president of the Febhatur tourist housing federation, Miquel Cifre, met with Martí March last Monday. They agreed to present an amendment to the government's simplification decree, one that will maintain the legality of holiday rental licences. March says that the legal security of an activity "so deeply rooted" in Pollensa must be guaranteed. Fixing an illegality cannot mean the loss of a totally legal licence.

March's position is therefore contrary to that of his party. But it would take a brave mayor of Pollensa to go against that tourism DNA.