The regional government of the Spanish Balearic Islands has suspended the opening of new tourist beds for four years to prevent over-tourism on the Mediterranean archipelago.
The freeze applies to holiday rentals as well as hotel rooms until 2026 on all four islands – Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera and Mallorca.
When the freeze expires, each island will be able to determine the number of tourist places it can accommodate, said the head of the archipelago’s regional government, Francina Armengol.
The aim is to favor “quality over quantity”, she wrote in a tweet, calling it “the tourism, social and environmental model of the future”.
The government must think “not only of visitors, but also of residents and workers – and of the territory”, added the socialist leader.
The measure was quickly criticized by the main conservative opposition party, the People’s Party (PP), which complained that it had been adopted by decree and without “debate” in the regional assembly.
The Balearic Islands, known for their pristine beaches and turquoise coves, are the second most visited region in Spain after Catalonia.
They received a record 16.4 million visitors in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, but that number fell to just 8.7 million last year.
Pre-pandemic surge in visitors sparked a backlash on the archipelago, with over-tourism blamed for soaring rent prices, water shortages and air pollution from cars rent.
In December, the Balearic Islands decided to limit the number of cruise ships anchored in Palma de Mallorca, its largest port and capital of the archipelago, to three per day.
It is the first limit of its kind in Spain, the second most visited country in the world after France.