Spain’s move to turn away ‘budget’ British tourists in search of ‘posh’ holidaymakers is causing misery for residents of Mallorca and Ibiza, who are now forced to live in vans because they can no longer afford the sky-high rents.
Locals in the Balearic Islands said they wondered how they would ‘survive’ and afford to rent or buy properties amid rising prices caused by a shift towards luxury tourists who can afford more expensive properties.
“People are now looking at how to survive,” said Rona Pineda, 32, who shares a two-bedroom apartment with a couple in Majorca. Bloomberg. ‘If you have a normal salary, it is very difficult to find a place to live these days.’
The comments came after Mallorca’s director of tourism, Lucia Escribano, stated her industry chiefs are “not interested in hosting budget tourists from the UK” – as the island tries to transform itself from a destination for cheap drinks and beach parties by the number of British tourists.
This shift from ‘budget’ British tourists to ‘chic’ visitors from France, Italy and the Netherlands has resulted in rental costs and house prices ‘shooting up’.
Spain’s move to turn away ‘budget’ British tourists in search of ‘posh’ holidaymakers is causing misery for the locals of Mallorca and Ibiza, who are now forced to live in vans as they can no longer afford the skyrocketing rents pay. Pictured: Tourists sunbathe on Magaluf Beach in Calvia, Balearic Island of Mallorca, 2021 (file photo)
Therefore, the situation has become so desperate for some residents of Mallorca and Ibiza that they are forced to live in campervans because they cannot afford to live in apartments or houses.
“More and more people are moving to motorhomes,” says Matias Vidal, director of the Mallorca real estate agency Inmovisa. “It’s still a minority, but an increasing trend that we didn’t see a few years ago.”
Vidal, who has been selling property in Mallorca for decades, added: “Foreigners usually have more money available and they don’t look for bargains as carefully, so prices skyrocket.”
According to Bloomberg, referring to market figures, 36 percent of properties sold in Mallorca and neighboring islands in the fourth quarter of 2022 were bought by people from outside Spain.
The rebound in foreign demand has pushed house prices in the Balearic Islands to the highest of any Spanish region, including the capital, Madrid.
In Madrid, however, workers are paid about 30 percent more than the islanders.
The neighboring islands of Mallorca and Ibiza are also trying to change their party destination image. Mallorca has added ten five-star hotels since 2018. Ibiza has doubled its own number of luxury resorts since 2016.
However, this means that the islands have increased the number of employees living and working on the island, who also need housing. To improve the quality of service, restaurants and bars need to hire more staff to keep pace.
This further pushes the demand for housing, making it even more difficult for the local population.
Meanwhile, as Spanish industry leaders look to other sources of tourism, European tourist destinations line up to bring in some extra British pounds.
Earlier this month, tourism chiefs in Lanzarote – one of Spain’s Canary Islands and one of Britain’s favorite holiday destinations – announced they had had enough of British tourists and would make a concerted effort to welcome more visitors from France, Italy instead. and the Netherlands.
Elsewhere, ‘difficult’ British tourists have been warned to ‘steer clear’ of Amsterdam if they only go there for ‘drugs and alcohol’ in a new ‘discourage’ campaign aimed at the tourism sector.
Amsterdam deputy mayor Sofyan Mbarki defended the new message saying: ‘The goal of the discouragement campaign is to keep unwanted visitors out. If we love the city, we must act now.’
Fortunately, the value of British tourists is clearly not lost to other European countries, whose industry leaders welcome visitors from across the Channel.
Mallorca’s director of tourism, Lucia Escribano, said her heads of industry were “not interested in budget tourists from the UK” – as the island tries to transform itself from a destination for cheap drinks and beach parties by limiting the number of British visitors. to limit . Pictured: Tourists are seen on El Arenal beach on the island of Mallorca in 2018 (file photo)
France’s National Tourism Development Agency said in a recent statement that the UK market is ‘always a priority and we must work tirelessly to revive the flow of tourists to France’.
Portugal has decided to scrap EU laws preventing UK visitors from using e-passports as a result of Brexit to reduce waiting times at airports and facilitate the arrival of UK holidaymakers.
Other European travel hotspots are also eager to welcome the British.
At the World Travel Market 2022 expo in November, Greece’s tourism minister, Vassilis Kikilias, said more than 3 million British travelers had visited that year and stated that the country was keen to bring in more tourists.
Turkish tourism bosses have also been outspoken about their desire to boost inbound Britons – following a record number of visitors from the UK in 2022.
Some in Spain are also concerned about the potential loss of British tourism due to a ‘tourist tax’ coming into effect later this year.
Mesa de Turismo, a non-profit representing Spain’s tourism industry, says it could pose a major problem for the country if the EU goes ahead with the charge, forcing non-EU visitors to pay seven euros.
The rate, called the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), will be applied to travelers visiting the Schengen area from November.
Mesa de Turismo described the tax as a “threat” and said there was a risk of undermining Spain’s tourism sector.
The ETIAS will apply to visitors from visitors from 63 countries – including Great Britain – outside the European Union. It was first confirmed by the EU in August 2021.
Spanish tourism leaders warned last week they could lose millions of British holidaymakers if the European Union introduces a new tourist tax later this year
The scheme will be similar to the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system, which allows citizens of 40 countries to stay visa-free for 90 days.
Like the US system, the ETIAS gives people visa-free entry for up to 90 days, during which visitors are not allowed to work or study, but can “engage in business and tourism activities.” according to the Schengen visa info website.
The EU version is valid for up to three years and counts for multiple entries. Those under 18 and over 70 are exempt from the fee.
The website states that visitors can “enter the Schengen member states as many times as you like, as long as your ETIAS is valid and you have not stayed more than 90 days in any 180-day period.”