Why Mallorca wants to curb cruise ships to the island

Activists and locals in the Spanish holiday island of Mallorca on Tuesday launched a campaign asking for fewer cruise ships.

Why Mallorca wants to curb cruise ships to the island
A mega cruise ship towers over the old town of Palma. Photo: You Move Europe

In a manifesto published on campaign website You Move Europe, some 20 associations asked local authorities to limit arrivals in Palma de Majorca, the island's capital, to one a day and 4,000 visitors.

“Three or four cruise ships accumulate at a time and unleash 15,000 people on the city,” Jaume Garau, head of environmental platform Palma XXI, told AFP.   

The number of cruise passengers descending on Palma has lept from 545,000 in 2009 to 1.19 million last year, according to the regional statistics institute.

A recent study by the European Federation for Transport and Environment (T&E) said Palma de Majorca has the second-worst pollution caused by cruise ships in Europe,  after Barcelona.

Some 87 cruise ships docked in the port of Palma de Mallorca in 2017 producing more than ten times the pollutants of all the cars registered in the city.

READ MORE:  Barcelona and Palma ranked worst in Europe for cruise ship pollution

Cruise ships emit large amounts of air pollution in the form of NOx (nitrogen oxides), SOx (sulphuroxides) and the so-called PM2.5 particles – also known as fine inhalable particles. 

Air pollution has a damaging effect on health, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes and in Spain an estimated 30,000 deaths a year are blamed on emissions.

Discontent with cruise ships is not exclusive to Spain.   On Saturday, thousands of people took to the streets in Venice calling for a ban on large cruise ships following a collision between a massive vessel and a tourist boat.

But Majorca's manifesto was immediately opposed by several business associations in this Mediterranean island which pointed to the benefits of cruise ships on the local economy.

“It's a type of tourism that consumes, that shops, goes to restaurants,” they said in a statement. “It's a type of tourism that spends, and in a short time frame.”

READ ALSO: Palma becomes first Spanish city to ban holiday rentals

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