Majorca chaos as protesters start ‘occupying beaches’ leaving tourists nowhere to go

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun7,2024

Campaigners today (June 16) took over a picture postcard cove in Majorca made famous around the world by influencer Instagrammers in the latest Spanish anti-mass tourism protest.

Islanders kept their promise to ‘reclaim’ stunning Calo des Moro from foreign holidaymakers by taking up every inch of space on the tiny 98-foot wide stretch of sand with their beach towels shortly after 8am.

The protest went ahead despite attempts by local mayoress Maria Pons to get organisers Mallorca Platja Tour to think again.
She claimed earlier this week the south coast cove, which locals turn their backs on many months of the year when it becomes a tourist must-see, had become an “obsession” and what it needed was a rest.

Platform Mallorca Platja Tour said as its protest got underway: “For one day Calo des Moro will belong to the Majorcans.”
As well as laying down beach towels between the rocks on either side of the sand, campaigners also unfurled a huge banner stretching across the cove which said: ‘Ocupem Les Nostres Platges’ – ‘Let’s Occupy our beaches’

Protestors, some of whom were already in their bikinis despite the fact the sun was just up, applauded as it was laid out on the front of the sand before chorusing in unison ‘Destination Majorca, don’t destroy it.”

Others held up smaller banners with the message: ’SOS Residents’ on them.

Around 250 people had already joined the initiative by around 8.30am, with many unable to crowd onto the sand at the bottom of the cliffs and having to stay on the path leading down to it instead.

To protect the beach those who managed to find a spot on the sand were asked to take off their shoes and leave them in boxes.
Others stayed in a nearby car park and distributed leaflets in English and German informing tourists about the mobilisation.

The protest was the second organised by platform Mallorca Platja Tour since a gathering on June 1 at island south coast beach Sa Rapita. It was billed as the first show of strength for today’s event before Calo des Moro was announced as the spot, although critics dubbed the Sa Rapita turnout poor at the time despite promises from supporters to ‘squeeze out’ foreign tourists.
The ‘reclaim’ event at Calo des Moro, due to go on until about 1pm today, went ahead despite the mayoress for Santanyi which it is part of saying it needed to be given a break to recover.

Maria Pons said earlier this week: “We understand the demonstration and we won’t do anything to stop it but Calo des Moro needs a rest. The only thing we want is that locals can live in peace every day of the year. Police have verified that when Calo des Moro is mentioned in the news, the influx of visitors increases. Neighbours living nearby suffer the pressure of thousands of people who pass through every day.”

Speaking at a full council meeting she also hit out at the social media stars who have transformed the cove, saying: “We have seen how some visitors change their swimwear three or four times to take different selfies and claim on their online profiles they’ve been to Calo des Moro many times.

“If we carry on the way we are there won’t be a cove anymore because of the erosion that’s been caused. As a tourist municipality the town hall leaders are conscious its wealth comes from visitors. But what Calo des Moro needs is that people including the media forget about it for the season.”

The mayoress’ comments led to a pledge from Mallorca Platja Tour that the cove would be protected and suffer no lasting damage during the beach ‘reclaim’ event.

It said in a statement before today’s event: “We share the concern of the mayoress of Santanyi about the saturation Calo des Moro suffers. That’s why we chose it as a symbol of a place where residents can no longer go because it’s always overcrowded with visitors. Those of us who will go on Sunday are people who love this land, which is why it shouldn’t suffer any inadequate footprint that could harm the area.”

Mallorca Platja Tour has insisted online it is not anti-tourist. It has linked its protests to the comments late last month of Manuela Canadas, spokeswoman for far-right wing party Vox in the Balearic Islands’ regional parliament.

She responded to a separate anti-mass tourism protest in the Majorcan capital Palma on May 25 by saying: “I understand the discontent but us Majorcans, who live directly or indirectly from tourism, cannot expect to go to the beach in July and August like we did years ago.”

An estimated 15,000 people took part in the protest in Palma last month, which led to one of the organisers having to apologise afterwards for abuse directed at some foreign holidaymakers.

Shocked tourists were booed and jeered by some locals as they ate evening meals on terraces in Palma’s Weyler Square.
Marchers were also heard chanting ‘Tourists go home’ as they passed through the central square on the 20-minute route from the park where the protest began to iconic street Paseo del Borne.

The banners campaigners carried included one with the offensive message: “Salvem Mallorca, guiris arruix’ which in Catalan Spanish means ‘Let’s save Majorca, foreigners out’.

It played on the colloquial Spanish expression Guiri which is used to portray northern European tourists like the British holidaymakers partying in Magaluf, usually in a mildly offensive way. Another placard said in Catalan: “Where you look they’re all guiris.”

The Palma protest took place a day after around 1,000 people massed outside Ibiza Council’s HQ to vent their anger over the effects of mass tourism. Campaigners held up banners saying ‘We don’t want an island of cement’ and ‘Tourism, yes but not like this’ as they massed outside Ibiza Council’s HQ.

The organisers of the Ibiza demo, a group called Prou Eivissa, met with Ibiza’s president Vicent Mari before taking to the streets.
Their demands include a limit on the number of vehicles that can enter the island in summer and a ban on using taxpayers’ cash to promote Ibiza as a tourist destination.

A letter was read out at the end of the protest from an Ibiza-born woman who linked her decision to leave the island with her family and move to the Spanish mainland to a “destructive” tourist model that had led to “more cars, more tourists and more incivility.”

On June 8 around 1,000 people packed into a central square in the Menorcan capital Mahon in another anti-mass tourism protest in the region. Some of the locals taking part in the demo in the square outside the island council HQ turned up with deckchairs, towels and sunshades as they mocked up a beach for the day on the concrete.

Ahead of the protest, lead organiser GOB Menorca pointed the finger at “colonising tourism” and appeared to highlight problems like Airbnb-style holiday rentals which have been linked to a lack of affordable housing by claiming: “For years Menorca has been increasing excess tourism and the congestion is getting worse.

“Colonizing tourism has been gaining ground, first on the coast, then in the countryside, then towns and now also in our homes.”
Protestors carried placards which read in Catalan: “Whoever loves Menorca doesn’t sell it”, “I can’t swim in the sea because it’s full of boats.”

Local Pau Marques, who turned up in swimming trunks under a hotel-style spa robe, said: “Today we’re dressing up as tourists, so perhaps they’ll listen to us.”

GOB spokesman Miquel Camps, insisting the protestors were not “anti-tourist”, warned: “We’re not going to sit back and do nothing if our politicians are not capable of putting the brakes on tourist saturation.”

Campaigners are currently working on a huge Canary Islands-style demo across the Balearic Islands planned for next month at the height of the holiday season. July 21 has been put forward as the probable date for the show of strength in the archipelago off eastern Spain – on Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera.

Organisers are predicting it will be the largest protest of its kind in Spain since thousands took to the streets across the Canary Islands on April 20. Government officials admitted at the time 30,000 people had taken part in the Tenerife march alone but demo leaders put the figure at 80,000.

The July 21 date was agreed upon as a working proposal at a meeting in the eastern Majorcan town of Manacor just over a week ago. The organisers of the May 25 Majorca protest, a group called called Menys Turisme, Mes Vida which in English translates as Less Tourism, More Life, called the meeting.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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