Palma to limit cruise ships after environmental concerns | Spain
Authorities in the Balearic Islands will seek to limit cruise ships to a maximum of three ships per day at its largest port, in an agreement described as the first of its kind in Spain.
The regional government said in a statement that arrivals in Palma Mallorca would be limited to three cruise ships per day as much as possible, with one of the ships possibly being a mega cruise liner carrying more than 5,000 people, from 2022.
Calling the deal historic, officials estimated it would lead to a 13% drop in arrivals at one of the Mediterranean’s busiest cruise ports compared to 2019.
The procession of cruise ships passing through Palma has been a source of friction for years, pitting environmental concerns against the economic benefits of a sector in which up to eight ships arrive on the same day, dumping more than 22,000 people into the maze of narrow streets of the old town of Palma.
In 2019, when more than 2.6 million cruise tourists visited the Balearic Islands, more than 25 organizations joined forces to demand that ships be limited to one arrival per day with a maximum of 4,000 tourists.
“Mega-cruise tourism arriving in Palma has developed in a way that is unsustainable and undesirable for our city, resulting in serious environmental impact and growing social protest” they said in a joint manifesto.
“Tourist overcrowding devalues ââour historical and cultural heritage, converting urban space into a theme park for visitors and degrading the tourist experience for others.”
The regional government said the deal had been in the works for more than two years.
“This means setting, for the first time, a real limit on the arrival of cruise ship passengers in Palma, something that would not have been possible without the will of the sector”, Iago Negueruela, the regional manager in charge economy and tourism. , noted.
Similar deals have been made for Dubrovnik in Croatia and Aalborg in Denmark, Negueruela told the Spanish newspaper El PaÃs. âWe are the first to do this in a port as large as Palma.
As cruise ship arrivals were often scheduled months in advance, the new daily limits would include less than 20 days of exemption in order to honor previously signed contracts, the government said. On those days, the limit for cruise ship arrivals would be raised to four, although the total number of passengers would be capped at 59,500 per week.
The five-year deal has been criticized by critics and proponents of cruise tourism. Some, like Platform Against MegaCruises, said not much would apparently change.
âThree cruise ships a day – including one with a capacity of over 5,000 passengers – still seems like a very high number for what the city can handle,â he said. “The regional government has missed the opportunity to take a courageous decision to protect the people of the Balearic Islands, their environment, their health and their right to the city.”
The competing platform Yes to Cruises has described the push to limit the sector as a “mistake” that could have serious repercussions on an economy, after a 2015 port authority study estimated that cruise-related tourism supports more than 5,500 jobs and contributes â¬ 256 million in direct and indirect income to the region.
Platform spokesperson, local guide Ãlex Fraile, suggested it would set a precedent: âThe next step is to restrict the arrival of planes to [Mallorcaâs] Son Sant Joan Airport? “.