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Mallorca hotel boss is worried by anti-tourism protests

Simon Calder’s Travel

A leading hotelier in Mallorca has admitted he is worried about the impact that protests against mass tourism are having on the island’s economy.

Javier Vich, who is the president of the Palma Hoteliers Association and CEO of the Summum Hotel Group, fears that fewer travellers will book holidays to the Balearic Island after reading reports of the protests on Palma’s streets and beaches.

One of the large-scale demonstrations saw almost 10,000 people parade through the streets of Mallorca’s capital at the end of May, carrying posters that read “SOS Residents” and “Enough Mass Tourism” – and this type of incident could affect where tourists’ decide to go on holiday, believes Mr Vich.

He says that he would not go to a destination where he did not feel welcome: “It is very difficult to build a destination and very easy to destroy it.”

Protesters hold a banner reading “Mallorca is not for sale”
Protesters hold a banner reading “Mallorca is not for sale” (AFP via Getty Images)

And some travellers currently visiting Mallorca appear uneasy about what could happen during their stay, as other protests have taken places at beaches and there are threats they might occupy airports.

“There are clients who ask at reception what is happening on the streets,” adds Mr Vich. “It is true that we have a problem.”

While tourism accounts for around 45 per cent of the Balearic Islands’ gross domestic product, according to data from industry organisation Exceltur, demonstrators say holiday rentals are pricing locals out.

Carme Reines, from a collective which organised the protest in Palma de Mallorca, said: “We want the authorities to stop people who have not lived here more than five years from buying properties and to put more controls on holiday accommodation.”

And unless the collective get their way, more action is planned. Another demo is scheduled for June 16 in Palma, with plans being discussed for protests across the Balearic Islands – Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera – on July 21.

Even if a small percentage of travellers stay away due to the protests, it could mean thousands of fewer bookings. After Catalonia, the Balearic Islands was the second most popular region of Spain for tourists last year, attracting 14.4 million holidaymakers, the Spanish National Statistics Institute said.

Some 18 million tourists visited Catalonia, while in third place, 13.9 million people…

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