Sensationally reported in the UK’s Sun Newspaper this week, the Oficina de Turismo otherwise known as the Mallorca Tourism Board says “NO” to Brits on a budget.
The Consell de Mallorca (Council of Mallorca) tourism director Lucía Escribano, was quoted to say, “We are not interested in having the budget tourists from the UK, we don’t care if they go elsewhere to Greece and Turkey,” she told The Sun during the World Travel Market (WTM) in London.
This newspaper article has upset both businesses and those who regularly holiday in Mallorca
The Sun is well known for sensational journalism, but regardless of how true these comments are, there is no doubt that damage has been done to Mallorca’s reputation as a welcoming holiday island.
In the days that followed this news report, other national newspapers carried this story.
And it has also been reported that hoteliers and even the Mayor of Andratx have come out to criticise the comments saying that British tourists are more than welcome in Mallorca.
So if Mallorca says NO to budget tourism from Britain, then what effect do these alleged comments have on tourism here in Mallorca?
Table of Contents
Does Mallorca welcome Brits?
Yes, it does. Of course, Mallorca welcomes British tourism. But there has been a feeling that British tourists are not as welcome as maybe other nationalities. This is especially the case following comments like those apparently made at the World Travel Market and reported in the Sun Newspaper. These comments suggested budget tourism Brits are not welcome in Mallorca, presenting the island negatively and appearing unwelcoming to Brits, many of whom are so-called “budget tourists.”
However, many visitors who have commented over the past year on the Mallorca Under the Sun Youtube channel have told me they are now indeed booking to other European destinations because Mallorca has become too expensive.
Others say they will still come to Mallorca, regardless of what Mallorca Tourism has apparently said.
One heartfelt comment in the Facebook group said, “Been coming every year for 40 years, and no board or government will stop me, I adore the island and will continue to support it and the local communities and businesses.”
Many of these holidaymakers visit the island every year and some visitors even book the same hotel.
It is these people who feel incredibly let down.
Is Mallorca going to become a destination for the affluent?
The director of the Mallorca Tourism board (Council of Mallorca) was reported to be very quick to correct the report and say that of course, Brits are welcome in Mallorca, but no comment was made about the budget travellers referred to in the news article.
If the Sun’s news story is correct, then saying no to “British budget tourism” discriminates against a country that has been reported to plough billions of euros into Mallorca tourism.
It’s not just budget travellers that have struggled. We are seeing traditional chiringuito beach cafes struggle to stay open on the island. You can read about this in this article here.
As it was also reported that the Government will be able to buy low-category hotels for regeneration. So are we seeing the signs that Mallorca will soon only be a destination for the wealthy?
And were these comments actually an unofficial announcement of the underlying tourism strategy for the island?
What message did the Sun article send to businesses catering for British visitors?
The widely reported remarks about British tourism at the WTM this week were offensive not only to British people who visit Mallorca but also to every single business in resorts that caters for British visitors.
I spoke to local business owners the day after the comments were made and they were deeply offended by how the island is being represented.
One business owner said, “It’s like the Mallorca Tourism Board said ‘We don’t care about your businesses. We now just want the money from the rich. “
These businesses work tirelessly to provide the ultimate holiday experience for visitors of all nationalities and budgets.
Are Mallorca residents anti-tourism?
It’s no secret that the island has been exceptionally busy in Summer 2022. But for as long as I can remember, and since my arrival on the island in 2005, there has been an anti-tourism movement bubbling in the background.
And it is a movement that just does not want tourism. You can see this graffiti in a photo I took on a sign in Santa Ponsa a few weeks ago.
This anti-tourism movement has sprayed over a sign highlighting a walking route.
However, this graffiti doesn’t reflect the opinions of the majority.
And there are many companies on the island that employ residents year-round to work in tourism.
Why do British Tourists in Mallorca have a bad reputation?
The actions of a few have shaped the perception of Brits abroad.
Reports of drunken behaviour have led to sensationalised news reports in the tabloid press, putting Mallorca on the map as a destination for alcohol excess.
While this may be true in some areas, it’s not widespread.
In fact this Summer, I found the more German resorts to be so busy, Magaluf paled into insignificance in terms of being a party destination.
What’s more, the majority of British tourists coming to Mallorca are families and older couples.
Palmanova is just a wonderful destination attracting just this demographic, as are Alcudia and Puerto Pollensa.
In fact, following the regeneration of areas in Magaluf, a much wider demographic visits the resort, and it no longer attracts just British visitors.
But does Magaluf live up to its reputation?
You can read more about Magaluf here, and see what it was like in August 2022 and predictions for what it will be like in 2023.
Is Mallorca saturated with tourists?
Wanting to limit British budget visitors will not make Mallorca into any kind of Monaco equivalent in the Balearic Islands, and nor should it. And Mallorca would also become a boring place if it only catered for wealthy tourists.
But the problems in Mallorca reach far and wide. And it’s understandable that residents tire of their favourite bars and restaurants, beaches or sunset spots and even public transport being so busy they cannot enjoy them too.
Tourism saturation has led to a rise in the cost of living and many workers cannot afford to live in resorts.
Take Palmanova for example. Working in a restaurant there, and not being able to afford to rent an apartment in the resort means that staff are travelling in from the countryside or from Palma city.
If they have a break between lunch and dinner service, they can’t just go home, because the bus stops have been so busy this Summer, that it’s taking twice as long to catch a bus, if at all.
So if you’re visiting Mallorca and are served by a grumpy waiter then just bear in mind, they may not have had a proper break.
And it goes without saying that the transport system in Mallorca needs urgent updating.
It became difficult for many visitors and locals to even get a taxi because of the bureaucracy surrounding where taxis can pick up passengers.
It’s understandable that residents on the island want to see “less” tourism. But is this down to resources, politics and the provision of services?
Problems with Brexit and Mallorca Tourism
Let’s not deny that Brexit hasn’t had a catastrophic effect on tourism in Mallorca.
During the summer months, and the continuing Covid entry restrictions for third-country visitors, it did feel like Brits were being continually put off visiting Mallorca.
With the UK now a third country, visitors’ rights have been stripped, not only from the length of time being allowed to stay in Mallorca but from entry restrictions but by having minimum funds before travelling to Spain. You can read about this here.
Add to this the Covid restrictions that were kept in place for UK (and third country visitors), during the entire Summer season meaning that these limits were already placed on tourism by stealth.
It became apparent they were nothing to do with a health emergency when hundreds of thousands of tourists poured into the island from European countries without health checks.
And next year most people will be put off visiting Mallorca by the rising cost of holidays.
However, steps are being made to address this with reports that the Spanish government are looking to lift the 90-day in 180-day restriction for British homeowners.
Also, it was recently announced that the Digitial Nomad Visa will soon be launched giving British and Third Country visitors the option to live in Mallorca. Find out more here.
How influential is the Mallorca Tourism board?
The Council of Mallorca represents the island at international tourism trade shows. They tell everyone how great the island is. They are the “voice of Mallorca.”
We have all seen their campaigns with Mallorca tennis icon Rafa Nadal, but do they still influence holidaymakers’ decisions to holiday in Mallorca?
I have been running a poll on the Mallorca Under the Sun Facebook Group and on the Mallorca Under the Sun Community page and you can see how influential they are in terms of visitors wishing to book their break to the island.
But Mallorca Tourism has its work cut out.
They told the press at the WTM that they wanted to encourage British visitors to visit the island out of season.
This will be a challenge, especially since flights are hard to come by and most of the hotels are closed.
Mallorca is a very different destination in the winter, so it is important to understand the demand from not only British visitors but from those from other countries too.
You can see where the demand lies if you look at the viewing figures on my Youtube videos.
So as the arguments rumble as to who said what to the press, the damage has been done. But this is also the Council of Mallorca’s chance to shine. It’s their opportunity to reshape tourism on the island.
To not only attract much-needed niche visitors interested in sports and hiking in nature. But also and most importantly to give people what they want. And that will always be a beach holiday.
This is an opportunity for the tourism board to enhance their influence to promote the island. To appear in spaces where people search for information. To harness social media. To also defuse saturated areas by offering alternatives. And to engage with their audience and understand the diverse demographic of why holidaymakers come to the island.
It is not the time to blame or indeed not cater for the very people who have invested in Mallorca holidays over the years.
As I said in my video, Mallorca Under the Sun will continue to promote tourism for all, regardless of the country you are visiting from or your budget.
So keep an eye on my channel. I will try to bring you information to make sure you have the best holiday ever.
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That is a brilliantly written article Alex. You have brought to light quite a few things I never even thought about. Thank you for taking the time to research and write this for us
Thanks for the info Alex….Hoping that the Sun’s report is an over exagerated article…My family and I love Mallorca and have been many times but still have so much more to explore…
I think so too, but it hasn’t helped with the image of the island. It’s wonderful that you are still coming out. I’ve been here for 17 years and still haven’t seen everything!
I would be suspicious of anything written in The Sun newspaper – it does have past form. Nevertheless thank you for an excellent article. We have been holidaying on Mallorca for the past 36 years – and will continue to do so. I’m sure the Hoteliers will take a more pragmatic approach than the so called Tourist Board!
Hello Melvyn, yes, I do think the Sun like to sensationalise stories to bring out the absolutely most clickable headline. Hopefully, the whole story will be forgotten soon though as I think the island has so many issues to address with regard to tourism. Thanks for commenting.