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Protesters occupy Mallorca beach in latest anti-tourism demonstration

MADRID – Scores of protesters occupied a beach in a Mallorca on Saturday in the latest demonstration against overtourism which they claim is pushing up rents for residents and straining public services.

Demonstrators converged on the resort of Colonia De Sant Jordi, east of the island’s capital, Palma de Mallorca.

Under the hashtag ‘OcupemLesNostresPlatges – Catalan for Occupy Our Beaches, the campaign group Mallorca Platja Tour (Mallorca Beach Tour) had appealed for residents to come and take back the beaches from tourists.

“We invite all residents near the beaches to go for a swim, recover our beaches and enjoy them as before. The beaches are for everyone!”

No tourists were forced to leave the beach and it was a largely symbolic demonstration. However, the group promised more protests across the island on 16 June.

Campaigners in the Balearic Islands claim that mass tourism is pushing up rental prices for local people who cannot afford to live in the Spanish archipelago, which has been a popular holiday destination with Britons for decades.

The sheer number of tourists arriving in the islands is overwhelming natural resources, causing traffic congestion and damaging the quality of life for local residents, campaigners say.

“For local people it is now impossible to rent somewhere if you are earning about €800 to €1,000 per month and you have to compete with the cost of tourist rents which are much higher,” Malena Isern, of SOS Residents, a campaign group, told i. “And we are swamped by the number of tourists who make living a normal life impossible.”

The beach protest on Saturday followed a march last weekend in which about 10,000 people took to the streets of Palma, police said.

Carrying placards in English and Catalan that read “Enough Mass Tourism” and ‘Mallorca is not for sale’ and ‘Foreigners Out’, the demonstrators filled the streets of the city.

Road signs on the Serra de Tramuntana, a mountain range, have been daubed with ‘Tourists go home’.

However, critics of the protests have pointed out that the islands rely on tourism.

In 2023, the Balearic islands received 17.8 million tourists, of whom 3.7 million were British, according to the Spanish National Statistics Institute (INE). The British are the second-largest group by nationality after the Germans, 4.8 million of whom visited the islands last year.

Tourism represents 45 per cent of GDP in the Balearic Islands, according to INE.

Meanwhile in Madrid, another protest against over tourism is planned for Saturday evening after a campaign against Airbnb lets.

Campaigners plastered tourist flats in the central neighbourhood of Lavapies with stickers reading “F**k Airbnb”.

“After the Canary Island and Balearics, it is the turn of Madrid. The spark is lit this Saturday in Lavapies”, said organisers Union of Renters of Madrid in a video message on social media.

“We know that tourism eats away at neighbourhoods like a termite. We know that the city council consents to massive and daily fraud in tourist apartments. We know that the only ones who can save the city are ourselves,” the group posted.

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