Various associations united under the name Tot Inclòs (all inclusive) organised two days of activities yesterday and today to highlight what they consider to be tourism over-exploitation of Palma. Among those taking part were representatives of the group for people affected by mortgages in Ibiza and of the Barcelona assembly for sustainable tourism.
Toni Pallicer, spokesperson for Tot Inclòs, said that in Ibiza there are people who have to leave rental accommodation in summer because prices are exorbitant. He added: "The intention of these two days has been to make people wake up and take action."
A general complaint from participants was that public investment is oriented only towards tourism and that basic infrastructures are therefore left in precarious situations. The Balearics, Pallicer observed, was one of the regions of Spain where there is more economic growth but also a fall in income per head of population. "Something's wrong."
Opinion was that the greatest damage being caused to Palma is from large cruise ships and the boom in holiday rentals. According to figures offered by Tot Inclòs, there have been more cruise passengers in Palma this year than ever before: more than one and a half million.
"The Mediterranean is becoming the luxury resort for northern European countries, and those of us who were born here have ever fewer rights. The massive number of tourists in Palma has shades of neo-colonialism."
Among solutions proposed were an end to the promotion of Majorca as a tourist destination and the elimination or reduction of services offered by Palma town hall, such as the tourist card and free wifi in the streets.
At midday today there was an "anti-tourist" route - something that the Bulletin had drawn attention to last week - that covered parts of the city most visited by tourists. Explanations were given as to the impact of services for tourists on residents and public space in the city. Further debates were then had regarding ways to end tourist "saturation".
Mayor does not believe that Palma is "saturated"
Mayor José Hila and councillor Joana Maria Adrover (tourism, trade and employment) presented figures on Monday to show that summer employment in the city has been recovering to levels that existed in 2008 before economic crisis took hold.
Both mayor and councillor referred to the positive signs for employment and employers in the city, Hila observing that there has been a lengthening of the peak tourism season. This, he noted, was a good thing in that it provides more jobs.
As has been well reported, the increased tourism activity in the city has supposedly brought with it a downside as well as plusses in the form of jobs.Too many tourists have been making residents feel overwhelmed by their presence - the so-called saturation. Hila, however, did not believe that there was such a saturation. He accepted that in certain parts of the centre of the city residents may feel overwhelmed. But he didn't consider the increased numbers to necessarily be a bad thing, noting that Augusts of the past have produced similar situations.
He pointed to the introduction of different access points to the city for cruise-ship passengers as being a means of alleviating sensations of being overwhelmed, but his message was probably as political as it was social. While he was on holiday in August, Aurora Jhardi of Som Palma (Hila is with PSOE) stood in as acting mayor and announced that it was "clearer than ever" that Palma had reached its limit when it comes to tourism. She insisted that the time had come to "minimise the damage".