As Bob Dylan so famously sang, the times they are a changin’, and nowhere is that being seen more than in the island’s tourism sector. Read on for the latest statistics, challenges, revolutions and trends for the coming year and beyond.

The Numbers

Mallorca has been a tourist hotspot since the 1950’s. Today the island welcomes upward of ten million visitors each year, the vast number of which come in the summer season. During the summer season is estimated that roughly 30,000 people arrive each and every hour. That comes out to two million tourists arriving per month in the high season, a staggering figure when you consider the island’s population sits at only just over 900,000.

In fact, of those tourists who choose to visit Spain, one in five chooses the Balearics.

The Germans are still the most abundant in numbers. They are 40% of the total number of yearly guests. Second the British, who make up about a quarter. The rest are spread out between Scandinavians, French, Swiss and other, mostly European, visitors.

The Facts

The tourism sector accounts for almost half of the regional GDP and employs three out of ten people. This has led to an economic situation that relies on this one industry to a perilously high level, though the payoff is enormous. Tourism’s contribution to the island’s GDP reaches figures topping €12 billion per year, huge numbers for a small island.

The average age of a visitor here is vast, ranging from 25-64, and two out of three are repeat visitors. The average length of a stay is eight days, and the per person spend sits at about €1000. Tourists come away from their time on Mallorca reasonably satisfied, with the average being an 8.6 out of 10.

The Impact

The downside of mass tourism is well documented and need not be overly stated here. It’s almost certain you or someone you know has been affected. In addition, lack of adequate rental housing, skyrocketing rents, interminable traffic in summer and not enough full-time work to go around have made people question if tourism is as beneficial as the powers-that -be claim.

Moreover, there has been a backlash against the mass tourism model with protests declaiming what they perceive as greedy business owners versus the local populace. They also are against the negative environmental impact of the constant flood of planes, cruise ships and cars, each polluting the island in their own special ways.

Mallorca Tourism Trends

Consequently, sustainability is on the lips of almost everyone you meet. The same goes for the Mallorca tourism. A trend away from the traditional model of overseas operators bringing airplane loads of tourists on package deals is currently in play. Today’s more eco-savvy traveller wants a different kind of holiday, not simply the old cocktail of sun, sea and sand.

To this end, the island has recently made steps to dissuade mass tourism and its ugly sister, “booze tourism”. New alcohol-related rules are in effect in parts of Palma, such as a ban on happy hours, 2-for-1 drinks and fines for drinking in the streets.

Mallorca is pioneer in sustainable tourism

What is replacing this outdated model is a more sophisticated kind of tourism… one that Mallorca is pioneering, just as it did mass tourism in days of yore. More and more, Mallorca’s tourist are looking for experiences where they can enjoy the fruits of the island without leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. In addition, agrotourism is continuing to gain popularity, for example, as are holidays that combine activities and relaxation, such as gastronomic or sporty experiences.

Today’s more eco-savvy traveller wants a different kind of holiday,
not simply the old cocktail of sun, sea and sand.

The Consell de Mallorca has recently announced they are rolling out a plan to make Mallorca the by-word for sustainable tourism. The President of the Consell stated that the council will look at future project proposal with this goal in mind. They also are looking at re-branding the island as a place that respects it’s natural environment and offers urbane visitors a chance to take advantage of all the island has to offer beside spectacular beaches.

When all is said and done, Mallorca will most likely continue to court tourists as their primary money-makers. However, the face of those tourists is set to change…for the better!

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Photos by Pernilla Danielsson

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