Overtourism activists threaten blockade of Palma airport

Protesters against overtourism are threatening to blockade Palma airport during the summer peak, according to reports.

They are threatening to paralyse the airport as demonstrations spread to Majorca following protests in the Canary Islands.

The ‘Less Tourism, More Life’ collective of activists plan to descend on Palma Son Sant Joan airport and want to bring it to a standstill. 

Climate activist Pere Joan Femenia warned the demonstration was a shared social response to overtourism.

About 10,000 protesters took to the streets of the Majorcan capital Palma over the weekend to seek curbs on tourism.

They complained about Airbnb-style rentals undermining the right to affordable housing, scarce water being used to fill swimming pools and roads being congested with holidaymakers’ cars.

The campaign groups organising the protests have said they could “collapse” the airport of Palma – the third largest in Spain, which was used by 31.1 million passengers last year, up from 29.7 million in pre-pandemic 2019.

The tactic also involves causing traffic ­gridlock outside the airport during the peak summer months, The Times reported.

The groups have also discussed possibly blocking the port and areas that are emblematic of tourist “saturation”, such as the Caló des Moro and Es Trenc beaches.

Environmentalist group president Margalida Ramis reportedly said: “Collective strength is necessary for obtaining an immediate, medium-term and also long-term response.” 

However, Balearic Islands tourism minister hit back and said: “It is a proposal that has no place in a society like the one we live in today, a measure that is currently classified as a crime.” 

He likened the plan to the actions of a Catalan ­pro-independence group that besieged ­El Prat airport in Barcelona in 2019, and said the police and security forces would deal with the “containment of the action”.

It comes after the island’s Hoteliers Federation president, Maria Frontera, called for a “strategic plan” to tackle tourist overcrowding, saying that “we are in a critical situation”. 

Frontera insisted that decisions must be made “based on objective data and not certain ideologies”.

She added that current problems are not new and that hoteliers have been calling for “a transformation process” for several years.

“Seeking a balance of coexistence between residents and visitors has long been an issue on these islands,” she warned.

“We all saw it and we have asked that it be managed better. But governments tend to be more reactive than preventive.” 

Thousands protested in the Canary Islands last month, calling for a temporary limit on tourist arrivals to stem a boom in short-term holiday rentals and hotel building.

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