Growing rebellion against mass tourism in Spain

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mass tourism

uIt is good for the labor market (provided employers pay decently) and therefore good for the economy. Without tourists, many Spanish villages would still have been dependent on the olive harvest or fish catch. Yet the massive arrival of visitors wearing sun hats and carrying cameras or beach chairs is causing increasing frustration among locals in the most popular places.

Two reports about this mass tourism in the Spanish news stand out in this context. First of all, various organisations and associations in Mallorca are organising a manifestation, following the protests of Saturday April 20 in the Canary Islands. Thousands of residents and organisations gathered there to protest against the current tourism model that overloads the islands and ‘drives away’ the local population. The demonstrators demanded a tourism cap, better regulation of housing and the introduction of an eco-tax. The situation on the busiest Balearic Islands Mallorca and Ibiza is not very different.

‘Degrowth manifestation’

The Platform ‘Less tourism, more life’ wants to organise a ‘pro-degrowth’ event on Saturday, May 17 at 6.30 pm. All private individuals, groups, associations and organisations that want to convey the message ‘it is enough’ are invited. In this context, the Fòrum de la Societat Civil, which unites ecological, neighbourhood, social, trade union and nature conservation organisations of the island, wants to present on Thursday the first Congress of Tourism of Civil Society. That will take place in Palma at the end of June. The idea is that everyone can have their say about a phenomenon that affects everyone.

Those affected by mass tourism can submit proposals

During the conference, proposals will be discussed on how to curb tourism in a balanced way, which will have been submitted by about a hundred people from the tourism sector and beyond. These people have been invited to this by the Fòrum de la Societat Civil. The organisation believes it is fair to “listen to the key players, who will now have the opportunity to submit improvement proposals”. Once the document is finalised, the work will be disseminated throughout society and provided to government agencies and companies in the sector.

Even before the tourist season has really started, the archipelago is already breaking records. In the first quarter of this year, the Balearic Islands received more than 1.25 million tourists from Spain and abroad. That is an increase of 17% compared to the same period last year. The number of cruise passengers rose to 165,104 between January and February alone, a year-on-year increase of 4.1%.

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Binibeca Vell in Menorca ‘must be locked’

benibeca vell menorca


El Diario published another striking article, also reproduced by The Guardian, and concerns the picturesque district of Binibeca Vell on the island of Menorca. This belongs to the town of Sant Lluís in the southeast of the island. The private urbanization was built in 1964 by an architect and developer who wanted to recreate their ideal image of a fishing village from a bygone era.

The residents are fed up with tourists wandering around en masse and believe that their village should be closed. “They enter our houses, sit on our terraces, throw garbage on the street and even take things with them,” it sounds. The epitome of a seaside ‘pueblo Blanco’ with winding streets, wooden beams, old-fashioned lanterns and picturesque balconies is doing so well on social media that residents are tripping over selfie-taking tourists who behave as if they are in a theme park, forgetting that real people live there.

Last year 800,000 visitors came and this year more than a million are expected and mind you, the village has less than 300 inhabitants. If the government does not come to the aid of the residents, the Owners’ Association will hold a vote among the owners in August to determine whether the village will be locked down or not.

Also read: National parks in Spain under pressure from mass tourism

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