Tensions rise as Germans eager to return to holiday homes in Spain

Tensions rise as Germans eager to return to holiday homes in Spain
Can Pere Antoni Beach in Palma de Mallorca, on April 26, 2020: JAIME REINA / AFP
Germans with holiday homes in Mallorca are clamouring to return to the sun-soaked island as the coronavirus lockdowns ease, but Spanish authorities are pushing back

Several hundred Germans have in recent weeks sent pleading, sometimes angry letters to the regional government of the Balearic Islands asking them to allow foreign property owners to return to their second homes.

The campaign was started by German national and Mallorca resident Ralf Becker, 55, who believes the travel restrictions aimed at halting the pandemic are “completely over the top”.

“Tourists have to come to Mallorca this year, or else the island will be poorer. Almost everything here depends on tourism,” he told the weekly Der Spiegel in late April.

The protesters have warned that keeping them away from their properties could make them think twice about their investments on the island.

Mallorca has long been one of the most popular destinations for Germans abroad, so much so that it is sometimes jokingly referred to as Germany's “17th state”.

Some 4.5 million Germans visited Mallorca last year to enjoy its idyllic beaches and bustling nightlife.

A father and his daughter walk on the rocks at Can Pere Antoni Beach in Palma de Mallorca, on April 26, 2020 during a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease. JAIME REINA / AFP

But the Spanish government is refusing to budge, wary of moving too quickly as it cautiously relaxes lockdown measures in one of Europe's worst-affected countries.

To limit the risk of a second wave of infections, Madrid has limited air and sea arrivals to Spanish nationals and permanent residents only, as well as people in certain professions.

All international arrivals also have to self-quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine measure is expected to stay in place for the duration of Spain's state of emergency, which Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez aims to extend until late June.

The new rule deals another blow to the country's battered tourism sector, and to second-home owners itching to get back to their place in the sun.

People share a toast at a terrace bar in Palma de Mallorca on May 11, 2020, as Spain moved towards easing its strict lockdown in certain regions. Spaniards returned to outdoor terraces at cafes and bars as around half of the country moved to the next phase of a gradual exit from one of Europe's strictest lockdowns. JAIME REINA / AFP

The question of when foreigners can start to return “is one we ask ourselves every day”, Francina Armengol, the regional president of the Balearic Islands, told reporters on Thursday.

She said she hoped that some tourists could return “in a controlled way” in July, as well as those who owned holiday dwellings. “But unfortunately I can't give any guarantees,” she added.

Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings this month resumed flights between Dusseldorf and Palma de Mallorca, but with services running “at less than 10 percent” of the usual capacity, it said.

The passengers so far have been mainly residents, business people and those with urgent reasons for travel, according to Eurowings.

'Not an amusement park' 

German lawmaker Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, from the liberal Free Democrats party, shared the frustration felt by German second-home owners as they face an uncertain wait.

“The many EU citizens who have for years paid property taxes in the Balearic Islands should be treated differently from those who are only popping in as tourists,” he said.

People exercise in Palma de Mallorca on May 2, 2020, during the hours allowed by the government to go out and exercise. JAIME REINA / AFP

But on Mallorca, some long-time German residents have taken a different view.

“I'm embarrassed to be German when I read what's in these letters. What right do they have to demand special treatment?” wrote a female reader in the Mallorca Zeitung, a German-language newspaper published on the island.

German national Alice Weber, a local politician with the left-leaning Mes per Mallorca coalition, was equally scathing.

The Balearic Islands are not “an amusement park” for investors, she fumed in an online video.

“What is a luxury fantasy land to you, is a home to many children who have to stay indoors at the moment but who, unlike you, understand they can't go to their playground right now.”

 


Member comments

  1. Happy that these “Holiday Home” people are being given short shrift. Yeah, sell your Home – there’s a line of people ready to buy; you can go to, oh, Brazil, because of course for you Corona does not effect your kind. Yeuch!

  2. I too cannot wait to visit Spain again, had to cancel this year, but please can we just all wait and let the Spanish people rest and get themselves reunited first , lets give everyone a bit of time.

  3. I agree with those Germans who say they should be able to visit their holiday homes in Mallorca now we are in Fase 1. This means those who have invested in Mallorca, not all the tourists. Germany has much better Covid record than Spain so why are the Spanish complaining? The requirement should be to maintain the social distancing and hygiene regulations and the police should be enforcing them. Anyone who does not respect the rules can be heavily fined. That’s all. I am not German. I am British so you can’t accuse me of being partisan. It’s only fair to both the Mallorquinos and the German investors in Mallorca to stimulate the economy and allow the return of a quiet, disciplined and limited tourism on this basis.

    Let us remember that the political class completely failed the people by now planning and stocking up for this crisis which they knew about from the experts could be coming for over ten years. The political class are not responsible for Covid19 but they are responsible for the crisis. This same class has now shut down the economy because they did not plan for the crisis. Far from telling us what to do and how to do it they should be made to pay for the whole economic downturn with their personal assets. That means identifying every politician that was elected to office going back to at least 2010 and finding them to refinance the economy. Instead what do they do? In Spain they shut the economy down, force people to go inside their homes and then offer them loans instead of grants which they have to pay back! That’s like cutting a man’s leg off and then asking him to pay for surgery to see it back on again. There is no limit to the arrogance and cheating of this political class. They should not be making the rules.

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