Story By: Ana Lacasa, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Exasperated Majorcans want to limit the number of tourists who can visit the island every year.
After video footage of a heavily littered seafront in the Spanish Balearic island of Majorca caused indignation, locals have said they want to limit the number of tourists.
According to a survey carried out by market research company Gadeso, 60 percent of Majorca’s residents agree with the statement: “The Balearic island is unable to absorb more tourists, because it is not sustainable.”
The same percentage also agreed: “More tourists is not synonymous with more wealth.”
The survey found that around 75 percent of the people living in Majorca felt overcrowded in the summer, especially in the beaches and on the roads.
Concurrently 40 percent of the participants in the survey reject a cap on the number of visitors and favour instead updating current facilities to cope with increased demand.
Local media also reported that the number of tourists staying in the island’s hotels has actually decreased at a time when the number of arrivals at the airports has increased to record numbers.
This is thought to be due to the proliferation of new models of tourist accommodation such as “tourist apartments” facilitated by the use of online platforms such as Airbnb.
Besides the 75 percent of the participants who claim to suffer from overcrowding, 51 percent agreed there was an excessive use of natural resources.
A further 38 percent claimed that public services had reached saturation point, and 28 percent said the same of the island’s bars and restaurants.
The survey has taken place in the context of heightened awareness in Spain of not only the sheer numbers of tourists who are visiting every year, but also the nature of that tourism.
Majorca, and in particular resorts such as Magaluf, have come under fire for focusing on low cost tourism associated with drugs, drunkenness, and often violent disorder.
Also 63 percent of the participants believed the solution would be to increase the tourist tax, known as the “eco-tasa” although many believed this was only necessary in high season.
However, 37 percent opposed any increase, with over half of those surveyed saying that it would be bad for the sector.
Many claimed that the tax was used purely to generate revenue, and that it only affects a specific section of the islands visitors.
The division of opinion is largely due to perceptions as to who actually benefits from mass tourism.
The island’s hotels, bars, and restaurants form a powerful pro-tourist lobby. However, although most local residents agree that tourism is an essential part of Majorca’s economy, the consequences of cheap mass tourism are causing a severe strain on popular goodwill.