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TOURISM

Palma de Mallorca puts freeze on new licenses for tourist lodgings

Popular Mediterranean destination says it is battling a rise in demand for new businesses

Tourists in Palma de Mallorca.
Tourists in Palma de Mallorca. EFE

The city of Palma, on the island of Mallorca, has introduced a one-year moratorium on licenses to build new tourist accommodation in four districts of this popular Mediterranean destination.

The local government – which is run by a leftist coalition of socialists (PSOE), the local group Més per Mallorca and Spain’s anti-austerity Podemos – said the decision is based on a “notable increase” in demand to set up new tourist lodgings in a city where there is already “a saturation” of hotel businesses in some districts, said urban planning chief José Hila.

Boutique hotels are left out of the moratorium

Palma joins Barcelona, which implemented a similar freeze on new tourist accommodation. The move is also the second time that the Majorcan city has attempted to deal with the issue of growing tourism, which critics say causes rents to rise and local residents to be priced out of their neighborhoods. In March of this year, local authorities announced that homeowners who rent out their apartments to tourists without a permit could face fines of up to €40,000.

Ban on new beds

The capital of the Balearic Islands currently has 38 licensed lodgings offering 2,149 hotel beds, and the city is handling 63 requests for new businesses that would see 2,193 more beds added.

The freeze on new licenses will mostly affect hostales – lodgings that are smaller and more affordable than hotels – and youth hostels. It will also have an impact on apartment buildings registered under the category of “inland tourism,” a term that has become “a catch-all for vacation rentals,” said Hila.

“If we don’t do anything, many of the new licenses will get processed via this inland tourism category,” he added.

Boutique hotels are left out of the moratorium, but will have to meet a raft of requirements before obtaining a new license – such as being housed in a landmark building and securing five-star quality status.

The moratorium will serve to redefine a new tourism model for the city

Urban planning chief José Hila

The ban affects the historic part of town and three other downtown districts that are either already “saturated” or under “significant pressure” from tourism: Santa Catalina, Eixample and Nou Levant.

Hila said that the moratorium will serve to redefine “a new tourism model for the city.”

Palma Mayor Antoni Noguera, of Més per Mallorca, said that the city has acted “with courage and co-responsibility” in a decision that is backed by the Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Palma and the Mallorca hotel business association.

English version by Susana Urra.

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