Ibiza struggles from perils of mass tourism

 Friday, September 15, 2017 


Ibiza mass tourismKnown as a wild party island as well as a place of tranquillity with coves of turquoise blue water, Ibiza’s popularity has increased over the years.

But behind the sea, sun, dancing and yachts lurks a serious problem of tourism overcrowding that is preventing many locals from finding affordable accommodation.

According to the regional statistics institute, the number of tourists visiting Ibiza, a small island of just 142,000 inhabitants, has almost doubled from 1.7 million in 2010 to three million in 2016.

This mirrors a similar trend in the rest of Spain, the world’s third tourism destination with close to 76 million people visiting in 2016, although there are fears last month’s terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils may dampen their enthusiasm.

In Ibiza, high demand for accommodation led to the appearance of scores of tourist rentals, most of them without a permit, provoking a rise in real-estate prices and making it hard to find a room for less than 600 Euros.

The situation gets even worse in high season, when the number of people on the island triples and temporary workers are needed in the tourism industry and other sectors, such as health services.

“We have perverted the system,” said Lucas Prats, president of an organization that promotes tourism.

He added, before there were “buildings dedicated to residential homes and those in tourism zones. Now everything is for tourism.”

Hence, the regional parliament of the Balearic Islands has passed a law banning the use of apartments for tourists without a permit.

It also restricts to just over 623,000 the number of visitors who can stay in hotels or legal rental accommodation at one time, and plans to reduce that figure to around 500,000.

The aim of this law is to stop locals from turning against tourism, which is an important activity for an island that was once poor and relied solely on fishing and agriculture before turning into an attraction for visitors in the 1960s.

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