Tourism warning as thousands of furious locals block streets at Spanish holiday destination

It comes as polcie said a deadly restaurant collapse on the island was possibly caused by excessive weight on the terrace

Graham Keeley
Sunday 26 May 2024 09:00 BST
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Thousands protest in Spain's Canary Islands over mass tourism
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Thousands have protested in Spain’s Balearic Islands as fury over mass tourism intensifies.

Posters read SOS Residents and Enough Mass Tourism as protesters marched through Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the largest Balearic Island. About 10,000 demonstrators took part, a police spokesperson said.

A protest with a few hundred people was also staged in Menorca and on Friday, about 1,000 protesters took part in a demonstration in Ibiza, one of the most popular Balearic Islands.

Protesters hold a banner reading “Mallorca is not for sale” during a demonstration to protest against the massification of tourism and housing prices on the island of Mallorca in Palma de Mallorca on May 25, 2024
Protesters hold a banner reading “Mallorca is not for sale” during a demonstration to protest against the massification of tourism and housing prices on the island of Mallorca in Palma de Mallorca on May 25, 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

Tourism generates 45% of the islands’ gross domestic product, according to data from Exceltur, an industry organisation.

“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,” said Carme Reines, from a collective which organised the protest in Palma de Mallorca.

Javier Carbonell, a real estate agent, said over half of rental properties were used for holiday rents and were not affordable for locals.

“We want less mass tourism and more sustainable tourism,” Carbonell said.

People take part in a protest against mass tourism and gentrification in the island ahead of summer season
People take part in a protest against mass tourism and gentrification in the island ahead of summer season (REUTERS)

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 and 13.9 million people visited the Canary Islands, the Spanish archipelago off Western Africa.

“We want a limit on new tourist places and a ban on more illegal flats. With less flats around on the market, it pushes up the price,” said Rafael Gimenez, a spokesman for Prou Ibiza which organised Friday’s protest.

In April, thousands of people protested in the Canary Islands, calling for a temporary limit on tourist arrivals to stem a boom in short-term holiday rentals and hotel construction that is increasing housing costs for locals.

It comes as Two German tourists, a Spanish waitress and a Senegalese man were killed when a two-storey restaurant building collapsed on the beach in Spain’s Palma de Mallorca on Thursday.

Tourists take pictures of the Medusa Beach Club building after its collapse, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Tourists take pictures of the Medusa Beach Club building after its collapse, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain (REUTERS)

Police said the accident was possibly caused by excessive weight on the terrace of the Medusa Beach Club.

The German victims were two women aged 20 and 30, the waitress was 23 and the Senegalese man was 44, the council said in a statement.

All the 16 reported injured were Dutch tourists, he said.

A spokesperson for German’s Foreign Ministry said its consulate in Mallorca was in close contact with authorities.

“The situation on the ground is still partly unclear,” the spokesperson said. “At this point in time, we unfortunately have to assume that German nationals are among the dead and injured.”

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