Thousands protest against mass tourism in Spain's Balearic Islands

  • World
  • Sunday, 26 May 2024

People hold a banner that reads "Mallorca is not for sale", as they take part in a protest against mass tourism and gentrification in the island, ahead of summer season in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, May 25, 2024. REUTERS/Juan Medina

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain (Reuters) - Thousands of people protested in Spain's Balearic Islands on Saturday against mass tourism ahead of the summer season.

Holding posters reading SOS Residents, Enough Mass Tourism, protesters marched through Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the largest Balearic Island. About 10,000 demonstrators took part, a Spanish National police spokesperson said.

A smaller protest with a few hundred people was staged in Menorca.

"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.

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.

Tourism generates 45% of the Balearic Islands' gross domestic product, according to data from Exceltur, an industry organisation.

On Friday, about 1,000 protesters took part in a demonstration against mass tourism in Ibiza, one of the most popular Balearic Islands.

"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.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley, Juan Medina, Antoine Demaison)

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