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Worries over record tourism on Spanish islands


Masses of tourists swap terrorism hotspots for Spain
Massive crowds of tourists, the likes of which have never been seen before, are expected in Spain this summer, especially on the Balearic islands of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza. Many there are wondering if the tourism infrastructure can cope.
The Balearics, which have a permanent population of 1.1 million, welcomed 13 million visitors last year, a figure expected to be even higher in 2016 as tourists ignore Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt due to the threat of terrorism.
Record numbers of cruise ships and packed charter flights will bring welcome cash to the islands, but airport capacity, roads, parking, beaches, bars, restaurants, even sewage will be pushed to the limit.
While Ibiza’s famous dance clubs hold their seasonal launch parties this week, environmentalists in Menorca and Formentera worry that sustainable levels of visitors will be broken.
Cruise ships are already arriving, a record eight already pulling into Palma on Mallorca on a single day in the first week of May. More than 22,000 passengers poured out of them into buses and taxis. Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca are now the second-biggest destination in the Mediterranean for cruise ships, with 798 of them expected this year.
“This year will be a crisis year,” warns Gerard Hau, a geographer and environmentalist. “Where do people go to find peace? Into the sea?”
He adds: “The infrastructure will not cope. Mallorca is booked out. We will have serious problems this summer. […] Already we have 60,000 rental cars on this island. We are second only to Hong Kong in our car density. The traffic is gridlocked, so people are stressed. There are no parking places […] and there is no room on the beaches. They are stressed and they won’t come back.”
The Guardian


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