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News Every Day |

Inside Majorca’s tourism row as locals says ‘we’re being colonised by foreigners’ while Brits hit back ‘we help economy’

LAPPING up the Magaluf sunshine, holidaymaker Zoe Kemp dismissed the anti-tourism demos which are sweeping the Costas as “completely hypocritical”.

She told The Sun: “They rely on tourists to survive. If you look around, everything is based on tourists.

Peter Jordan
Stickers have been plastered around the island, reading: ‘More tourists? No thanks’[/caption]
Peter Jordan
Zoe Kemp dismissed the anti-tourism demos which are sweeping the Costas as ‘hypocritical’[/caption]
Peter Jordan
Activist group SOS Residents’ movement is spreading rapidly across Spain[/caption]

“Places like Magaluf are advertised as cheap drinking holidays. We help the economy.”

The resort lies on the west coast of Majorca, which receives around 40 per cent of its income from tourism.

Yet in May 15,000 people stormed through the island’s capital Palma jeering at visitors as they sat down for meals.

Stickers have been plastered around the island, reading: “More tourists? No thanks”, “Stop Tourism” and “Tourist go home — you are not welcome here”.

Last week more than 300 protesters “reclaimed” Instagram-famous cove Calo des Moro in the south of the island by blocking foreigners from entering the 130ft stretch of sand.

There are plans for another rally on July 21 across the four main Balearic Islands, Majorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera — just as many UK schools break up for the summer.

Nursery manager Zoe, 25, from Barnsley, said she experienced a rude waiter on the first night of her ten-day holiday in Magaluf, renowned for its nightlife.

She said: “It was like he just couldn’t be bothered with us.

“He was rude and treated us like we were an inconvenience. It felt like he just didn’t like English tourists — but we had made him money.”

The wider anti-tourism demos, from the Spanish mainland to the Balearic and Canary Islands, threaten a summer of chaos for British holidaymakers.

Protesters have told The Sun their recent action is just the start, and say they will keep up their campaign until holidaymakers stay away.

Greedy developers

But Brits’ summer breaks could be ruined by protests on UK soil too.

Just Stop Oil has threatened to target airports at peak holiday times after a demo at Stansted Airport in Essex last week was ominously called “just a prelude”.

It means flights to and from the UK could face delays or even cancellations due to the protests.

Just Stop Oil has been crowd-funding all month to raise money for its “flight disruption” campaign that it believes will make the world greener.

Beyond Britain, we have discovered that activists plan to bring the Balearic and Canary Islands to a standstill during the peak season for British travellers by marching through the streets in their thousands and shutting down airports altogether.

They blame mass tourism, and the Spanish government allowing the development of hotels and holiday lets, for causing a housing and cost-of-living crisis.

Peter Jordan
The wider anti-tourism demos threaten a summer of chaos for British holidaymakers[/caption]
Peter Jordan
Brits visiting the island this week say they have already started to notice animosity from locals (pictured Kelly, Sally and Emma)[/caption]

Alícia Aguiló, spokeswoman for SOS Residents, an activist group co-ordinating rallies in Majorca, told The Sun the movement is spreading rapidly across Spain.

She said: “They started in the Canaries. Now I see that in Ibiza they are beginning to mobilise.

“This is just the beginning. We will continue until politicians are willing to make changes.

“Majorca is being colonised by foreigners and greedy developers have turned the islands into a theme park for tourists.

“Our children have no chance of becoming independent, because rental prices are far above their means, even if they have an average salary.

“We are becoming poor workers without services. We can’t allow the greed of some to condemn our children to emigrate to have a decent life. The roads, beaches, bars and hospitals are saturated.

“Waste management is disastrous. Mega-polluting cruise ships are an attack that affects the air quality in Palma.”

Mass tourism

SOS Residents is selling anti-tourism merchandise for locals to display across the island.

One chilling banner, draped over several balconies, shows a silhouette of holidaymakers laden with suitcases being chased by an axe-wielding figure, with the words: “City for those who inhabit it. Not for those who visit it.”

Brits visiting the island this week say they have already started to notice animosity from locals.

District nurse Sally Smith, 36, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, said: “I’ve noticed in a few bars their attitude is a bit stand-offish, angry. They slam things down on the table.”

think the protests will get bigger and spread across Spain. There are problems elsewhere that are even bigger than here.

Pal Kelly Butterworth, 44, added: “This area in particular is definitely a bit Brits abroad, but we’re bringing in a lot of money.

“If everything closed down, where would they get their money from?”

In Palma, New Yorker Jules Seo, 32, said Majorcans show more hostility to tourists compared with other European countries she has visited.

She said: “People seem to have less manners here, they’re very sharp with tourists. People have been a little bit rude sometimes.”

After Catalonia on the Spanish mainland, the Balearic Islands was the second most popular region of Spain for tourists last year, attracting 14.4million holidaymakers, according to the Spanish National Statistics Institute.

Palma resident José Mercader, 52, was compelled to support the protests — despite relying on the tourism industry in his job as an airport baggage handler.

He said: “I think the protests will get bigger and spread across Spain. There are problems elsewhere that are even bigger than here.

“It’s impossible to buy a house and to rent is really expensive. My mother has just one Majorcan neighbour, everyone else is from other countries.

“Before the tourists, everyone on the island had a house and land. Maybe the work was harder but Majorcans had all the basics. Life without tourists would not be hell.”

José said locals are also tired of “rude” Brits, adding: “They say good manners are born in the UK but it’s like they forgot it. People come here with their noses in the air.”

Sky high rent

Market trader Martina Salerno, 30, will also join the demos, even though most of her sales come from foreign visitors.

She said: “There are so many tourists on this island. We don’t have the space to go to the beaches because there are too many people.

“Restaurants and bars are all full of tourists and because of that, prices go up, so locals cannot afford them.

“Rents are very high. We don’t have that kind of money. A lot of people have to live with their parents because it’s very expensive.

“Ten years ago I was paying €170 (£144) per month for a flat, now I am paying €400 (£338) for a room in a shared apartment.”

Peter Jordan
Lory Lithriu, who owns El Gordito Restaurant on the Magaluf Strip, said: ‘I haven’t seen one person here who is upset that tourists are coming’[/caption]
Peter Jordan
The Moody family, from Rotherham, said the protests won’t put them off visiting[/caption]
Peter Jordan
Ice cream seller Claudio Garlant said he doesn’t agree with the protests[/caption]

Property prices in Majorca have more than doubled in ten years.

On Thursday, estate agent Adela Kovacs showed clients around a three-bedroom flat in central Palma which is valued at €4.9million (£4.15million).

She said the agency has had interest from England, Germany, Sweden and Russia but not Majorca, as “we could never in our life afford to buy anything like this”.

Welsh-born Rhiannon Lewis, 41, who emigrated to the island five years ago with partner George Rees, 40, said: “There are families that have lived here for generations and they can’t get on the property ladder.

“It’s not fair. I think they will keep protesting until the government does something. If people can’t keep a roof over their heads, they’re not just going to give up.”

But defiant Brits are not about to give up their holidays.

Martial arts instructor Phil Moody, 44, from Rotherham, is in Magaluf for two weeks with his wife Joanne, 34, and son Riley, 13.

He said: “The protests won’t put us off, I’d happily live here. I’ve actually got a six-year plan to move here.”

Before the tourists, everyone on the island had a house and land.

Joanne, an O2 manager, added: “We saw a few anti-tourism banners, but all the Spanish people we’ve come across have been really friendly. It seems they really want our custom.”

And some islanders say activists are blaming the wrong people.

Lory Lithriu, 43, who owns El Gordito Restaurant on the Magaluf Strip, said: “I haven’t seen one person here who is upset that tourists are coming, they are very happy and rubbing their hands together.

“The protesters are blaming the English people but they are not the problem. The government’s to blame.”

And ice cream seller Claudio Garlant said: “Eighty per cent of my business comes from tourists.

“I don’t agree with Majorcans. It’s a beautiful island but without tourism it would just be full of goats.”

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