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Spain’s Balearic Islands want to limit number of tourists

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Spain’s Balearic Islands want to limit number of tourists
Balearic Islands like Ibiza want to limit number of tourists. Photo: Paul Meek / Pixabay

The government of the Balearics wants to put a cap on the number of visitors to the holiday islands and only allow 16.5 million per year.

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The Balearic Islands received 16,475,579 tourist arrivals in 2022, a figure that reached almost pre-pandemic levels back in 2019, with only 397 fewer tourists.  

This same number is around the number that the government of the Balearics wants to limit the number of visitors to - 16.5 million.  

This is slightly less than the 16,596,194 the islands welcomed in 2018, the year that marked an all-time high in tourist arrivals. 

Up until September 2022, the Balearic Islands could even compete in the top 20 rankings of the most visited countries in the world, coming in sixteenth place, just on its own.

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This is all part of the regional government’s plan to remodel its tourism industry. The government wants to introduce a cap on the number of arrivals and has said that this is the maximum number the islands can sustain.  

The Balearic Minister of Tourism and Labour, Iago Negueruela said: “We believe that it is feasible to do better, but with fewer tourists. Despite the theories of those who bet on quantity versus quality, it has been shown that we are going in the right direction”.

The number of visits reached in 2022 "is a maximum that should not be exceeded, but should decrease", he continued, insisting that "there must be a clear trend towards the reduction of tourist numbers".

The plan will also focus on reducing the number of tourists in summer and trying to attract more during other times of the year.

The strategy is to increase quality and services, whilst and the same time reducing the number of arrivals, at least in the summer months, when the sheer numbers have become intolerable for both residents and other tourists.

Recently, the regional parliament of Spain's Balearic Islands approved a law that allowed the holiday island of Menorca to limit the number of cars that can visit, preventing it from becoming choked by fumes and overrun during summer months.

This means that the island can now set a "maximum ceiling" for the number of vehicles that can circulate on the island's roads during a "defined period".

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READ ALSO: Spain’s Menorca gets green light to limit cars

Back in February 2022, the Balearic authorities also passed a law that banned the creation of new hotels and other tourist accommodations on the popular holiday islands until at least 2026, as part of a bid to engage their new model of tourism that values quality over quantity. 

In addition, the islands have restricted the number of visitors to the Marítimo-Terrestre de Cabrera National Park, home to 50 percent of the posidonia (seagrass) meadows in Spain. Those who want to access the area by boat must request special permission.

But not everyone agrees with introducing an exact limit. Antoni Riera, director of the Fundació Impulsa Baleares, is reluctant to set ceiling figures and says he is more in favour of focusing on "the production model". "No one knows the actual capacity of the Islands, so one cannot speak of a number, although the social and environmental impact is undeniable," he points out, adding that "the important thing is to forge a tourist vision that hasn't yet been defined."

 

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