- Visitor numbers in Spain have rocketed over ongoing terrorism fears
- Travellers have abandoned Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey due to the unrest
- Spanish tourism chiefs are predicting record-breaking visitor numbers
- Although the huge influx is causing some resentment among locals
Visitors to Spain are being made feel increasingly unwelcome by locals angry over the growing influx each year, it has been claimed.
The local tourist industry is benefiting from a massive boom in numbers as wary travellers decide against booking holidays in Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia because of the ongoing ISIS treat.
Earlier this year, yobs sprayed: ‘Tourist go home: Refugees welcome’ and ‘Tourist: You are the terrorist’ on historic buildings in the centre of Palma, capital of Mallorca.
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Tourists in Mallorca have been confronted by racist graffiti which was soon removed by the local authorities fearful of damaging the island’s reputation among its millions of visitors
Thousands of tourists arrive in Palma every week from giant cruise ships sailing the Mediterranean, stopping off at many of the Balearic islands to allow guests to go sightseeing
Spanish tourism officials claim they will see 67-million visitors this year – far more than the country’s population of 47-million.
It is believed almost five million fewer people are visiting Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia because of the ongoing unrest.
Spanish travel industry expert Rafael Gallego said: ‘Between 12 per cent and 15 per cent of the tourists coming to Spain wouldn’t have come here were it not that those destinations that compete directly with Spain fur sun and beaches are closed due to tragic events.’
Nearly three million British tourists are expected to visit the island this year.
Around 15 million of the 65 million foreign tourists that flock to Spain every year are British, putting them in top spot ahead of the French and Germans.
One hotel in Palma had been targetted four times by vandals.
A hotel spokesman said: ‘We have already reported this latest incidents and three earlier incidents this year to the police.
‘On two occasions bags filled with paints were thrown at the facade.
‘We have the feeling, especially in light of the graffiti that was daubed on buildings and street furniture, that there may be a small group who feel unhappy with the effect of tourism on the area for whatever reason and are trying to make their feelings known.
‘We’re obviously concerned because this has been the fourth incident but we’re not alarmed.’
Those in working class neighbourhood La Barceloneta have protested against drunken Magaluf-style holidaymakers and illegal tourist flats.
There have also been demonstrations around the Sagrada Familia to complain about the daily hordes of holidaymakers.
Many locals have been appalled by the behaviour of some tourists who drink heavily during their visit, leaving discarded rubbish on the street and engaging in anti-social behaviour
Spain has seen tourist numbers rocket as visitors have abandoned other cheaper sunshine destinations such as Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt because of the ongoing unrest in the region
However, many Britons travelling to Spain are insisting on all-inclusive deals in hotels and resorts as the dramatic fall in value of the pound as reduced their spending power.
Humphrey Carter of the Majorca Daily Bulletin told The Guardian: ‘It has been a record year here and has sparked a big political debate over whether the island is now full.’
Luis Clar, who lives in Palma Told EuroNews: ‘They want to turn us into a theme park, a place you close the doors on at night because no-one lives there.’
But Miguel Vazquez, 32, who lives in Mallorca and is unemployed, told MailOnline: ‘I was born here and since I was a little boy I have always been able to tell a tourist from a local, even if it is a tourist from Spain.
‘Mallorcans are different to Spaniards, and yet we are happy to take their money and the money of British tourists, Scandinavians, French.
‘The locals moan that it is busy, they can’t get a table at their favourite restaurant but to call them terrorists, no chance, that was just one crazy person. At the end of the day, we need tourists, Palma’s economy relies on tourists otherwise there would be no Palma.’
In the Balearics off Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast, nearly a third of employment depends on the sector. It accounts for nearly half the economic output, more than in any other region. The local economy has just recovered to its pre-crisis level after a five-year downturn.
Yet unease over the boom is spreading among the population.
In drought-prone island Ibiza water reserves are getting tight and in rural Menorca fears are mounting that natural beauty-spots risk being spoiled.
On one day last August, the population across the Balearics nearly doubled, reaching a record 2 million.
The latest data from March shows visitors to the archipelago were up nearly 50 percent from 2015 in that month alone, swelled by arrivals from Britain in particular. All-inclusive holidays for the peak summer months are selling out.
In Palma, residents know there are days to avoid the city centre, especially when cruise ships carrying thousands of passengers mass in the harbour, and some worry entire neighborhoods will turn into holiday lets.
Similar concerns led to angry protests in Barcelona two years ago, where residents in beachfront areas rallied against the rise in drunk and disorderly holidaymakers that coincided with a blossoming trade in tourist apartments.
For Gaspar Alomar, a temporary worker in a bookshop in one of Palma’s medieval quarters, the recent spate of anti-tourist graffiti in the city has at least appeared to stoke a debate over whether this type of growth is desirable.
He said: ‘The resources we have are finite, it’s logical that there should be a finite number of people coming. If we build our whole economy around tourism we’ll have nothing to hold onto if trends change, in the long run it’s not sustainable.’
In some respects local authorities are leaning if not toward limiting tourism, at least toward controlling it.
Next year the smallest of the Balearics’ four main islands, Formentera, could introduce taxes on cars entering the area, and the region is looking into capping accommodation for tourists, said Biel Barcelo, the local tourism minister.
An additional two million visitors are expected in Spain this year due to the terror threat
Almost five million tourists have abandoned trips to Tunisia, pictured, Egypt and Turkey
In July, the left-wing government in charge of the archipelago since 2015 brought in a tourism tax of up to €2 for overnight stays, though measures such as these have also sparked an outcry among travel firms and hoteliers.
Monica Garcia who works at a guesthouse in Palma said: ‘We already live well enough from tourism – we should not be demanding a top-up.’
Hotel groups have warned it could hurt revenues in the long run, and dismay at any attempts to curb tourism is also evident among many people who depend on the trade in Mallorca, from taxi drivers to souvenir sellers.
Barcelo argued improved regulation and planning – from more efforts to attract visitors out of season to better management of the glut of visitors disembarking all at once from cruise ships – would help protect the industry from the risk of a backlash if residents become overwhelmed.
The tax, he said, aims to raise between €50 million and €70 million a year mainly for environmental projects.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online