Spain travel warning for Brits as tourism protests heat up in holiday hotspot

Several areas of Spain have held recent protests about the impact of over-tourism on the country
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Brits heading to one of the most popular holiday destinations in Spain this summer have been warned that they may encounter protests, amid growing frustration towards high tourist numbers.

On Saturday, May 26, thousands of people gathered in Majorca's (Mallorca) capital city Palma to protest the impact of tourism on the Balearic Island, with demonstrators insisting that "Majorca is not for sale". Approximately 10,000 protesters marched through the streets to highlight issues including overcrowding, destruction of the island, and a lack of protection for residents, claiming that the current tourism model is "pushing Majorca to the limit", according to the Majorca Daily Bulletin.

More than 2.3 million Brits jet off to Majorca each year, accounting for around a quarter of the island's tourist traffic, but holidaymakers could face an increasingly hostile reception with protests expected to continue throughout the summer. Majorca is the latest part of Spain to have played host to such demonstrations, which have also taken place on fellow Balearic Island Ibiza and across the Canary Islands including Tenerife and Lanzarote recently, The Express reports.

Residents of Majorca are reportedly planning to ramp up their anti-tourism demonstrations as peak summer holiday season gets under way, including threats to block the island's airport and hold protests outside hotels. Last week, a group under the slogan "Més turisme, menys vida" - "More tourism, less life" - said it intended to cause chaos at Palma Airport over the bank holiday weekend.

Més per Mallorca, the Majorcan coalition, is calling for a reduction in the number of flights at Palma airport, saying: "Majorca is no longer overcrowded, Majorca is experiencing collapse." In the face of mounting "social unrest", the Balearic Government held its first meeting on Wednesday to "lay the foundations for a new tourism model" and combat congestion on the islands.

"The time has come to adopt difficult decisions and transform the tourism model," said Balearic president Marga Prohens, although she warned that the model will not be active in the next couple of years. She continued: "The path to reaching agreements will not be easy but we owe it to the entire society in the face of the current situation of overcrowding of the archipelago and mobility problems."

While locals acknowledge the importance of tourism for the economy, the key message of campaigners is that residents are being driven off the island due to a "housing crisis" brought about by the increased number of holiday rental properties and overcrowding. Laws have been ramped up on the Balearic Islands in recent months in a bid to curb the impact of tourism, including the introduction of alcohol bans and strict dress codes in holiday hotspots.

The FCDO travel advice page for Spain warns tourists: "Demonstrations, political gatherings or marches can take place with little or no warning, particularly in cities. Follow the advice of police and local authorities. While most demonstrations are peaceful, there is a risk of unrest or violence. If you're near areas where demonstrations are taking place, be aware of what is happening around you and move away if there are signs of disorder.