Tourism in Mallorca, its long history and development;
In the popular imagination, Mallorca is the archetypal mass tourism resort, one of the world’s pioneers of mass tourism, linking the resources of the Mediterranean to the supply of tourists from north, west of Europe and another part in the world.
Mallorca has always been a travelers core reception and visitors throughout its long history, whether conquerors, invaders, visitors or tourists. For its strategic location has been always coveted as is closer to Europe than some places in the Iberian Peninsula, while offering the advantages of an island as you can find on our Island the tranquility you want, or you can delve into bustle of a big city like Palma de Mallorca.
But speaking exclusively about tourist level, Mallorca became very fashionable when Frédéric Chopin came to the Island looking for Mediterranean climate in 1838 to try to cure the tuberculosis which affected him. He moved to La Cartuja, amidst the green mountains of Valldemossa, with his lover, the writer George Sand, her children and a piano.
The novel “A Winter in Mallorca“, written by George Sand, became a bestseller and its title is still used as an advertising slogan for cultural events taking place in winter on the island. La Cartuja of Valldemossa has become a place of pilgrimage for over 250,000 annual tourists and the first celebrity to visit in 1867 was the Archduke or “Archduke” Luis Salvador of Habsburg and Lotringa, great admirer of Chopin, whose sailboat Nixe dropped anchor off the coast of Deiá, fell in love with the daughter of the carpenter in Valldemossa, named Catherine, and stayed for thirty years on the island, taking up residence in Son Marroig, located atop in the steep coast place that welcomed in those years the most prominent representatives of the European nobility.
At this time of our history we cannot consider the different visitors to Mallorca as tourists, rather we should regard them as travelers who came to Mallorca motivated by desires for adventure, interest in exploring a world and a different society they knew, or even for therapeutic reasons, as was for example the case of Chopin already discussed above. At this stage, the publication and dissemination of works relating to Mallorca helped make the island a preferred place destination for many travelers, illustrated, artists and geographers. Thus, Mallorca becomes part of European romantic world, attracted by “primitive” and mysterious places.
In 1838 maritime the steamship line between Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca opened which facilitated the arrival of passengers from the mainland and abroad to the island. The first tourist guide of Palma de Mallorca was published in 1845 during the second half of the different works that were released throughout Europe geographical, cultural and ethnographic of our Island singularities, highlighting among these works the publication of Archduke Luis Salvador that was published Austria entitled “Die Balearen”.
Between 1900 and 1936 is when the “first tourists” will appear in Mallorca. In this period begins to develop a minority tourism leading to the construction of the first luxury hotels such as the Grand Hotel in Palma, conducting the first developments as Cala d’ Or , Palmanova , Ciudad Jardín, etc.. and the creation in 1905 of the Fomento del Turismo de Mallorca (Mallorca Tourist Board), which had the function to give human formation for tourism, condition the landscape and access to scenic spots, advertise hotel companies and travel services, in short, to publicize Mallorca. Thus began the first organized phase of tourism that despite the parentheses obligation imposed by the First World War did grow as evidenced by numerous, successive openings of hotels that took place in the decade of the twenties and thirty. The first were the Mediterráneo and the Victoria Hotel in Palma and hotel Formentor in Pollensa. From 1934 other hotels are found like the Royal, Cala Mayor, Solarius, etc. Anyway, it was a very different tourism from today, characterized as high quality, with longer stays, most of them in winter time. During this time there were many famous people who visited the island constantly and fell in love with Mallorca as Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Robert Graves, Agatha Christie, Winston Churchill and many more.
From 1936-1951 were difficult years for the economy of the islands, especially because the tourism had no evolution, on the contrary, virtually ceased to exist. Three are roughly aspects that can define those adversities: The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and its aftermath caused a collapse of the normal movement of passengers and goods. The economy was so battered that travelers for pleasure were very rare. The Second World War (1940-1945) affected all European countries, interrupted communication and makes travel very difficult and risky, if not impossible. The isolation of the Spanish State until 1951 due to the peculiar characteristics of the dictatorial regime was not conducive to an attractive tourist destination for Europe where the democratic tendencies had triumphed.
After the interruption of the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War, between 1951 and 1973 is when started the real tourism growth in Mallorca, did born “The Mass Tourism”. Different are the factors to consider in this period that established the foundations of all this development: in 1951 the UN changed its position on the Spanish State, which meant international recognition and the opening of foreign relations. In 1959 the Stabilization Plan, which included, among other measures, a major foreign exchange devaluation of the peseta, the Spanish currency until Euro entry. The economic standardization in Europe with increasing living standards and the generalization of the well regulated holidays led, since 1960, to a strong increase in tourism. Along with these external factors, Mallorca with a number of interesting conditions for tourism as infrastructure and previous experiences in tourism, attractive weather conditions with dry summers and mild temperatures, lower cost of living of most European countries, easily link via airport, suitable geographic location with short distance to tourist emission sources, in short, the increase in tourism in this period is very high. A few statistics can give us the idea of this impressive growth because since statistics of visitors to Mallorca in 1950 with 98 000 entries are created, in 1973 the figure is 2,850,000.
When in 1950 landed in Mallorca the first charter flight chartered by the poet Robert Graves to return to his home in Deiá on a small landing strip in Son Bonet Aerodrome no one could imagine what was going to happen from the time, the “Tourist Boom” in Mallorca, which was favored by the beginning in Europe of mass tourism or popular tourism thanks to peace and the economic recovery with paid vacation. All European countries were able to participate in this growing and profitable economic activity leisure/holiday thanks to commercial aviation, the took advantage of the military aircrafts the leftover from the Second World War and facilitated the appearance of the first UK and Nordic Countries Tour Operators (Germany still took a few years to develop this form of tourist transport).
In 1973 Mallorca had already reached the accommodation capacity of 265,680 seats (222,680 hotel, 26,000 apartments and 17,000 unregistered) with a total of 2,850,000 visits this year and with a GNP (Gross National Product) in 1970 tourism was approaching 30% while the total of “Tertiary Services” was 65% and the primary sector was 9%. Mallorca had turned its economy, the primary GNP in 1950 was 40% (the largest sector) and the tourism only 2% while total “Services” was 22%. In 1960 landed at Palma’s the first jet aircraft, the Caravelle SE 210 which together with the “package tour” of TT.OO. (Charter plane plus hotel) was the key success of tourism marketing at the time.
In 1974-1977 the first tourism crisis was suffered in Mallorca (and the world) by the “oil crisis” (sudden and exaggerated rise in oil prices) but the decline in tourist arrivals occurred only in 1976 and only was down -7.7%.
1978-1988 were followed by a second “Touristic Boom” but irregular and truncated in 1980 by a crisis of some British Tour Operators (bankruptcies) and the Spanish economic crisis in 1985. The arrival of autonomy in Balearic Islands (1983) as well as the liberalization of tourist prices marks a milestone in the tourism economy, the promotion is already a competition of our Government (but still dependent on Central Government funding). In this period a very important part of the Balearic hotel entrepreneurship took place, already consolidated and forming a strong lobby in mainland Spain, and they changed their strategic policies. Due depletion and rise in coastal developable land on the shores of Balearic Islands (especially in Mallorca) started in 1978 a period of major hotel investments in the Canary Islands, where the main attraction was the regular operating cash flow, creating clusters of Balearic chains with a presence in many areas of about half of all the hotel facilities of the place. And further expansion began few years after arriving first to the Caribbean and later to the Riviera Maya (Mexico). In 1985, Barceló hotel chain opens its first hotel in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), following shortly after the chains Sol-Meliá, Riu , Oasis, Iberostar and Fiesta (the latter two from 1993-1994). Operating costs, good purchase price of land and the exotic destination were investment incentives helped by tax breaks in the country and also supported by a new era of commercial aviation with modern aircraft, fewer flight hours and affordable prices for European middle classes. While decreased creating new hotel rooms in Mallorca, following the construction pressure of apartments for tourist use, regulated and non-regulated, motivating a reaction from the Balearic Government in 1984 and adopted Decree Cladera I and the first step occurred in Mallorca demanding a minimum terrain area of 30sq per customer to build tourist resort. In 1987 the Decree Cladera II raised that requirement to 60m2 per place.
In the period 1989-1992 the second tourism crisis of Mallorca (and world) by the “Persian Gulf War” suffers (as above for oil issue but with worse consequences) that led to the shutdown of the numbers of arrivals around of 6,5 million tourists, as well as the construction of new tourist capacity places stagnated at around 480.000, breaking some hotel companies that were in the process of expanding its accommodation capacity.
Between 1993 and 2000, took place a third “Touristic Boom” in Mallorca, raising an increase of 7.1 million arrivals in 1993 up to 10.4 million in 2000, while only increased accommodation capacity of 468,859 places in 1993 to 520,070 in 2000, 51,211 more places but only 35,862 were hotel capacity. The number of apartments remained similar and only increased somewhat non-regulated places (owned by residents). The big chains were still busy investing in the Caribbean and Mexico and a new generation of hoteliers appeared in Baleares. Notably in 1997 the approval of POOT (Management Plan of Tourist Offer) for 30 coastal areas in Mallorca that not only was long and had complex gestation (5 years) but also its execution after publication, since it was necessary that municipalities adopt it. The POOT intended to discourage the increase o touristic places (tourist or residential use) based on the constraints of land and natural resources and to promote an exchange of tourist beds in front of the sea for other inland areas. This combined with an urban and tourist moratorium decreed by the Balearic Government to overbuilding of homes for tourist use not regulated, in 1998 slowed the development of the accommodation offer. However in 1999 and 2000 continued to increase tourist arrivals and stays in Mallorca.
2001 started a new economic crisis affecting Spain and Balearic Islands and lasts until 2003. During these years the environmental initiatives influencing policy decisions and protection of the environment and natural resources is greater. Voices against the growth of the second tourist residences were also heard as the added value generated is lower than a hotel operation and consume more territory. Once the expanding activity returned in 2004, in 2005 a record of tourist arrivals is achieved but this stage is ephemeral and in 2009 the third crisis is global but not caused by oil, by a start of financial intoxication (Global Financial Crisis- prime rate). From then until now have remained foreign tourist numbers have declined domestic tourism, with the result of a slowdown in activity in summer and higher in winter seasonality. Have stalled investment and therefore the growing of the tourist accommodation capacity. Tourism GNP reaches 60% within 84% of the service sector, while building back up to 6%, the industry stands at 8 % and the primary sector does not exceed 2 %.
The insular condition of Mallorca or rather archipelago, is a negative factor added in times of crisis given the limitations posed to a change in the production model so the priority scheme of tourism as an engine of the economy remains, but without real possibilities of improvement the seasonality problem in Mallorca despite efforts (enhancement of heritage, more facilities for outdoor sports, cultural activities, etc..) since in the best case only affect the Bay of Palma (capital advantage and weather), leaving the rest of Mallorca without alternatives.
In any case, it is remarkable that the Balearic Islands have, in one hundred years of tourism 1912-2012, a number of tourists in the order of 335 million, of which 275 million are foreign and only 60 million nationals. While the stage 100 years is a symbol, the reality is that only since 1950 only significant tourism arrivals occur. By nationalities British highlight with 116 million, followed by Germany with 102 million and other nationalities with only 57 million, similar to the figure cited for domestic tourists. So clear is the internationalization of inbound tourism Balearic and is also evident the predominance of aircraft as way of transport with 95% of total arrivals (5% by sea).
Mallorca ended the year 2013 with 9,454,264 tourists arrived.