My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Musings on Mallorca: part 3

Of course experiencing local culture is not high on every traveller's list of priorities - as we were often reminded in Mallorca. Some people simply want to lie in the sun and read a book, others just want to have fun with friends, and they don't care where they do it. But when I write, I write with a different audience in mind - one for whom experiencing local culture, language, history, art, and cuisine and so on are just as important than lying by a pool. Unfortunately, Mallorca has for too long focused its sights on promoting sun and sand - or bucket and spade - tourism. And through its efforts to make the holiday experience for sunworshippers cheap and easy, the island has lost much of its culture and destroyed some of its coastline in the process. I'm talking about the wall-to-wall high-rise hotels, the once-pretty coves now backed by ugly concrete apartment blocks, the menus in four languages and featuring beef stroganof and fish and chips, and an abundance of tacky souvenir shops, Irish bars, British pubs, betting shops, and lap-dancing clubs. This is what I don't like about Mallorca. Mass tourism in its ugliest form. And sadly, it can be a challenge to escape it. It's not a handful of towns that have given over to package tourists, as is the case in Cyprus, but a whole stretch of coastline west of Palma, another in the north, and dozens of other spots in the east and south. And don't think Mallorcans are happy about this. Most we met are not - especially the younger generation - but they seem powerless to do anything about it and admit they've lost control. Why? Because much of the development is foreign-owned. Mallorca makes a great case study for how not to develop tourism. But on a positive note, it's also a brilliant candidate for an experiment in sustainable tourism and how to turn a destination around.


jessiev said...

it is so interesting how development affects a place (positively or negatively). it is too bad that mallorca has turned out like this.

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Jessie - it's very sad, isn't it? Although, as I said, most people visiting the place aren't affected by it - because most people are simply there to lie in the sun, so as long as they have their cheap hotels, cheap restaurants, and cheap booze, they're happy. I guess you can see I'm not a fan of package tourism. Having said that, there are some wonderful beaches, museums, gardens, restaurants and hotels, and I will write about those. Thanks for your comments!

Travel Muse said...

We found the same thing happening in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. What was once a charming fishing village was transforming into the next Cancun. It made me sad because in the moment we were there it was what I would consider perfect. There really is a tipping point in travel where things go to far and destinations are no longer inviting.