Balearic Islands, in the wake of the Canary Islands protests

“The Balearic Islands have reached their limit.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 May 2024 Saturday 22:33
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Balearic Islands, in the wake of the Canary Islands protests

“The Balearic Islands have reached their limit.” The phrase is not from the representative of an environmental organization in the archipelago, but from the president of the Government, Marga Prohens, this week, in an unexpected twist to what has been the official speech of the PP until now. Prohens came to the Balearic Government with a political program on tourism matters very different from that of her predecessor: end of the moratorium on places approved by Francina Armengol and review of the limitation on cruise ships in Palma. The reality is different: the Consell de Mallorca has just approved the elimination of 18,000 places on the island, the first tourist reduction operation in history.

This change of script coincides with a clear discomfort among the Balearic society, exhausted by having to live with a tourist business that corners the resident in their own land, and that looks at the protests experienced in the Canary Islands with amazement and, in the case of some social groups of the islands, with admiration. The Balearic Islands, a community of 1.2 million inhabitants, received 17.8 million visitors last year: twelve tourists per inhabitant, double that of the Canary Islands. In the first four months of this year, the number of arrivals has grown by 16% compared to the previous year and all forecasts indicate that this will be a year never seen before. This massive presence of visitors has forced car access to points on the Islands to be limited and Formentera has set a limit on the arrival of vehicles in summer, something that Eivissa and Mallorca are also considering doing.

The social perception coincides with the feeling expressed by the president, but her words are also related to the growing fear that the Balearic Islands will light the fuse of discontent and cause an outbreak like the one that occurred in the Canary Islands a few weeks ago. Various social entities have called a meeting next week to decide whether to prepare mobilizations.

The Civil Society Forum of the islands has organized the First Civil Society Tourism Congress on June 26. They want to analyze the impact of tourism monoculture, its consequences on the territory and society and give citizens a voice. “There is a general feeling in Mallorca that we have gone too far and we have to turn back,” explained Jaume Garau, one of those responsible for the movement, this Wednesday during the presentation of the congress.

The debate about the need to put limits on tourism has been on the table for years and even prominent hotel businessmen on the islands, the big names in national tourism, speak openly that the time has come to stop and establish quotas. Gabriel Escarrer, president of Meliá, or Carmen Riu, CEO of RIU Hotels