The Balearics “Rejection of Tourism” Continues

Tourism has made the Balearic islands and many of it’s native inhabitants rich beyond their wildest dreams but the anti-tourism philosophy and the relentless quest for negative publicity that has been endemic over the last few years shows no sign of stopping.

This weeks addition to the ‘you couldn’t make it up’ list is the news that the Formentera government is pushing forward a new law that may leave you scratching your head in bewilderment.

This beautiful island is the jewel in the Balearic crown and with no airport relies solely on boats to bring tourists to it’s door yet a new maritime law will ban day cruise boats from docking at the only port in La Savina.

Now let that sink in for a minute (pun intended). A tourist island that’s only accessible by boat but doesn’t want day cruises to go there. It doesn’t want to cut back, limit or renegotiate it wants a total ban. No wonder the outside world is perplexed to what the Balearic Islands actually do want.

The new law won’t affect the larger ferry companies such as Balearia and Trasmapi who service the island on a daily basis throughout the year but will affect the 8 pleasure boat companies specialising in day cruises who are hopping mad as the new law will virtually kill off part or most of their business overnight. This week they have been remonstrating strongly with local politicians including Pepa Mari, who’s in charge of transport and mobility at Ibiza’s Island council.

The boat companies claim that the new measures ‘will reduce the quality and diversification’ that Ibiza offers to tourists by depriving them of the possibility of visiting Formentera directly from areas, such as the Marina Botafoch, Playa d’en Bossa, San Antonio and Santa Eulalia.

They have also reiterated that the new decree ‘is an attack on the freedom of business, equity and justice’ saying that 200 jobs could be in serious danger. The boat companies also point out that Formentera companies can still continue to offer day trips to Ibiza so the new law is discriminatory and literally one-way traffic.

The CEO of Mallorca based Meliá Hotels, Gabriel Escarrer, has also waded into the debate saying that the current perception that the Balearic Islands has too many tourists is so widespread that tour operators have asked him if the Balearic Islands ‘wants to commit suicide’ because they do not understand how the islands can adopt so many measures that harm competitiveness whilst at the same time sending out messages that generate uncertainty and transmit a rejection of tourism’.

Meanwhile the local press are reporting that Turkey and Egypt are seeing a 30% increase in demand whilst the Balearic Islands had a near 300,000 drop in British and German visitors in 2018 compared to the previous year. It doesn’t take a rocket science to decipher these numbers, a little common sense can see that people are deserting the Balearics in search of cheaper destinations that value tourism.

Welcome to the Balearics where we only want a certain type of tourist and if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to pass the means test you will be required to pay an extra tax on arrival at your all inclusive hotel which will soon not be allowed to serve alcoholic drinks and by the way don’t even think about that day trip to Formentera!

Author: Martin Makepeace

Englishman living and working in Ibiza since 1991. Entrepreneur with a passion for villas, boats, sunsets and San Antonio. Read my blogs, listen to my podcasts and catch me on Radio One Mallorca every Tuesday morning.

6 thoughts on “The Balearics “Rejection of Tourism” Continues”

  1. “Tourism has made the Balearic islands and it’s native inhabitants rich”… ¿quien es el rico? los dueños de los hoteles, porque los demas NO… putos ingleses… a ver si con el brexit os echan a todos…


  2. Thankyou for keeping us informed of what’s happening in ibiza.
    Although i love ibiza I’m not sure I want to return in 2019 and many of us over here in the uk will be boycotting ibiza . Let’s see what they say when they have no tourists coming over. Look out for the stats next year! To the gobierno its time to lower your prices and treat us and our cash with more respect. Good luck to formentera your going to need it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d like to put an alternative point of view.

    I agree many of Ibiza’s residents have become wealthy through tourism. But, in a democratic society, they also have the right to use their money to improve their quality of life. In Ibiza some could see reducing the number of tourists as part of a means to achieving that goal. It’s easy to see how people who live on the island might feel their lives would be enriched if there was less noise, pollution and effluent in the sea along with fewer cars on the road.

    At the same time, I’m not sure that comparisons with Egypt and Turkey really work any more. There’s no way Ibiza can undercut those countries. More importantly, the amount of time people spent on short breaks, mostly to cities, has overtaken bucket and spade holidays. Ibiza is a short-haul destination and its competition is more likely to be Barcelona than Bodrum. And, actually, Ibiza does seem to have done quite well financially in making the slow transition from fortnight’s holiday to weekend-break destination.

    Of course, if you establish policies which reduce the number of tourists, assuming demand stays relatively stable, it will push up prices for those who come. That’s the law of supply and demand. But, maybe, it’s the right thing to pursue a smaller number of higher-spending tourists. It is discriminatory, but it’s the way the market works. People with more money have more choice.

    None of these problems are unique to Ibiza. The tourist market has always left some resorts behind. You only have to look around the coast of Britain or along the Spanish costas to see the effect. And, now, popular destinations such as Barcelona, Amsterdam and Prague are having to figure out how to co-exist with tourists.

    I’m certainly not saying I know any of the answers. But, after 14 years on the island, I can see something of both sides. What I don’t subscribe to is the idea that anybody who spends money is welcome to do what they want, wherever they want. And I mean that it whether they come with their own private yacht or a stag party.


    1. Fair comments. My article is more about the negative press we are getting plus the messages the Balearics are sending to the outside world. As in most things in life it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it and the current anti-tourism philosophy has taken many by surprise. The mindset now is that tourism is to blame for all the bad things happening on the island but really it’s the lack of control (imo).


  4. I agree with you that Ibiza does attract a lot of media attention, positive, negative and, well, I don’t know. Is a picture of a busty celebrity wearing not very much good or bad?

    One of things that’s unusual is the way the media lumps together Ibiza as if it was just one big resort. When Magaluf and Faliraki were the focus of all the shocking drunken teens shagging in the streets stories nobody thought it was happening across Mallorca or Rhodes. (Incidentally, Faliraki’s tourist businesses seem to be in a far worse state than San An’s.)

    Within Ibiza there’s a terrible communication problem. Partly it’s down to the local authorities who seem to be hopeless at PR and marketing. But, also, so many residents live in a variety of bubbles, never talking to each other. The result is everybody seems that everybody else is either stupid or trying to pull a fast one on them. Of course, they may be right, but I like to think it’s more often a matter of misunderstanding.


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