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Citizens protest on Spanish island of Majorca against mass tourism

A citizens' protest against mass tourism on the Spanish holiday island of Majorca symbolically closed the tourism ministry. The island has had enough of drunken visitors and wants more sustainable forms of tourism.

Members of "Ciutat per qui l'habita" (the city for its inhabitants) symbolically blocked the ministry building in the center of Majorca's capital, Palma, on Saturday afternoon and glued notes with the inscription "closed" to the entrance of the building.

Around 3.4 million British tourists visited the Balearic Islands in 2016, with the majority visiting Majorca. Authorities want to change the islands' image and reduce the number of mass tourists. Recently there have been calls for alcohol bans on flights to the islands. 

A spokeswoman for "Ciutat per qui l'habita" read out a message before a group of demonstrators, criticizing the rental of apartments in multi-family houses to non-locals, reducing places for locals to live and stay and also driving up property prices.

She said the influx also meant the disappearance of food stores, which had been replaced by franchises and more car parks.

'Tourists go home'

Fights between tourists from Germany as well as other incidents have driven many locals to seek curbs on the number of tourists.

In the past few days, graffiti have been appearing in Palma calling for tourists to "go home" and declaring "Tourist, you are the terrorist."

On Friday Neus Truyol, head of Emaya, the municipal cleaning company of Palma, said tourism was also responsible for the growing quantity of garbage, which must now be collected twice a day in the city.

Tourist taxes to rise?

The Daily Mail newspaper reported earlier in July that tourist taxes in Majorca could double by 2018, with the introduction of a so-called 'ecotax.' 

The law as it stands gives a reduction of 50 percent on the ecotax in the period between November 1 and April 30 of the following year.

Tourists going to Magaluf also face new laws to curb out-of-control behavior, including tree climbing, shining a laser and using soap in the public showers.

The islands' authorities have been discussing how to move to a more sustainable form of tourism. "The economy is more important than a foreigner's right to an apartment," Palma mayor Antoni Noguera said earlier this month.

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jbh/jm (dpa)

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