Majorca overtourism protests ‘a concern’ but ‘yet to hit sales’

By Ian Taylor and Juliet Dennis

Spanish authorities and industry leaders have admitted concerns about protests in Majorca but stressed bookings appear unaffected.

Around 10,000 people protested in Palma in late May about overcrowding, unaffordable housing and poorly paid jobs and a large demonstration is planned on June 16.

The actions follow similar protests in the Canary Islands.

Spanish Tourist Office UK director Manuel Butler said: “We are all concerned about this issue, not just in Majorca but in many popular tourism locations. We’re working with the private and public sectors and the Majorca and Balearic Islands authorities to address these issues.”

But he said: “The media coverage does not always accurately portray the reality. Tourism needs to be protected for the long-term benefit of residents and visitors alike.”

A spokesperson for the Balearic Islands government, which has set up a committee to develop a blueprint for sustainable tourism, said: “We understand the challenges for residents around congestion and access to homes. We welcome visitors, but we also need to address the challenges.”

Abta said it was in touch with local authorities. A spokesperson noted: “The protests were not against tourism to the islands or targeted at tourists. Protestors were raising concerns about how tourism is managed.”

Agents said Majorca remained “as popular as ever”. The Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “We haven’t seen the protests impacting sales. However, it’s important the industry works with local governments to ensure a social equilibrium between tourism and residents’ needs.”

The Travel Foundation head of communications Ben Lynam called for the protests to be taken seriously.

“Majorca is at the sharp end of an issue that affects all our industry,” he said, adding: “Destinations have limits and tourism is only welcome when it respects these and the communities. Businesses will increasingly need to accept limits as not just necessary but desirable.”

Hugh Morgan, a former leading tour operator who lives on the island, said: “Majorca has developed into a mecca for tourism and that is probably part of the problem”.

He noted 700,000 tourists a week fly to Majorca from April to October and ferries and cruise ships arrive daily, adding: “Local people are not anti-tourist – but they’re saying the government has to do something.”

Go to Source...