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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 

Mallorca

The effects of tourism on Mallorca


 
Mallorca, the beautiful island that is the largest of the Balearic chain, is located just off of the eastern Spanish Mediterranean coast. Mallorca has long been a favorite of European tourists thanks to its rugged landscape, balmy climate, and old world architecture.

Many Americans find their way to Mallorca as well, but they do not have the advantage of the cheap rail and air fares that most Europeans enjoy.

The history of Mallorca and the rest of the Balearic islands is rich and very culturally diverse. The islands' numerous protected ports have made them a preferred stop along the trade routes traversed by sailors for many centuries. The varied influences of diverse European, African, and Asian peoples is prominent throughout the indigenous culture of Mallorca and her neighbors.

In the 1960's, a massive influx of tourists from France,
England, and Germany flocked to Mallorca. The first wave of tourists to fall in love with and "invade" Mallorca was French.

Because the people of Mallorca never really accepted Spanish rule and still consider themselves first Mallorquin and second Catalan, they have willingly accepted their close French neighbors.

The Mallorquin people are very capitalistic. While they complained about the foreigners, they also quickly learned their languages and found ways to capitalize off of the tourists.

On an even larger scale, the "English invasion" of Mallorca (in the late 1960's) was accompanied by the poorly regulated
construction of budget tourist accommodations and nightclubs. This "budget" class of tourists came seeking sun, sand, and nightlife, and they were proven to be well-satisfied with a couple of infamous coastal towns designed for their pleasure.

Many of the young British tourists on package vacations spent their entire visit drinking and flirting in the town of Magaluf, and rarely bothered to venture any further into Mallorca.

This arrangement worked fairly well for the locals for 25 years. The tourists rarely came near their homes. The government of Mallorca, to its credit, learned a valuable lesson from this period of unregulated development and has since become very strict about any new construction (by tf support allender). No longer do visitors to Mallorca see the poorly constructed high-rise buildings of some 30 years ago because they're gradually being renovated or replaced.

The wealthy visitors to Mallorca preferred the dramatic Northwestern coast, including Estellencs, Valledmossa, Deia, and Soller. In these areas, special care was taken to preserve the charm of the lovely old fincas, and many of them became small exclusive hotels and resorts.

This area was always considerably more exclusive than the more accessible parts of the island because of the mountain range that divides it from the rest of Mallorca. Up until the late 90's when the EEC began to provide capital for major development, even the most-traveled roads leading to the Northwestern coastal towns were extremely narrow and poorly maintained.

The short trip to Deia from the airport at Palma took over an hour even though they're only about 30 km apart as the crow flies. But today, new roads make for much easier and faster travel.

Modern day Mallorca is home to many expatriate residents from the United States and Britain, but several of these long-term residents are now leaving due to the current "German Invasion."

As the 'European Union" took shape in the 1990's, Germans, afraid of losing lots of money due to the equalization of the European currencies, began coming to Mallorca in droves spending huge sums on homes and businesses where the exchange rate was more advantageous to them.

The result of this massive German investment on Mallorca was rapid inflation in the local economy. Now, not even ten years later, no native Mallorquin is able to afford property on Mallorca.

Upon entering most any restaurant, foreign guests are now first addressed in German. Upon learning that the guest is a different nationality, the waiters will visibly relax. If the guest speaks Mallorquin or Spanish, the waiter will usually engage in a bit of good-natured "German-bashing."

The effects of tourism long ago took over the very fabric of life on Mallorca. But now, with the massive escalation of prices, the locals can no longer afford to purchase houses on the island. And maintenance tasks for those who already own their homes can be done only at inflated prices since wages have also increased.

And the Germans have proven to be chilly neighbors, fortifying their homes with high walls to keep others away.

But now, the financial advantages afforded to the Germans have evaporated, and the other expatriate residents of Mallorca are expecting property prices to return to a more affordable level.
 


Kim Davis Spent 6 years as a resident of Mallorca. She is the author of the highly acclaimed "The Yachtie Bible: How to Get Paid While Traveling in Style." Visit her at http://kpdavis.com.


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