Read the manifesto against the overcrowding of tourism in Menorca

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Last Saturday, the 8th, the Biosphere Square in Maó, where the headquarters of the Island Council is located, was filled with an outcry against the growing tourist overcrowding of the island.

It is highly recommended to read the demands that were raised in the manifesto, because they argue the reasons for the mobilization and go in step with the usual textbook criticism made about these acts.

Is crying out against mass tourism against or in favour of tourism? Is making proposals to stop our economy from losing per capita income going for or against the economy of the resident population?

This and other issues are addressed in the text reproduced below. If the citizens fill themselves with arguments and organize, we will be able to maintain successfully this pulse against the interests that only see Menorca as an extractive economy space.

The organized crowding that was seen on Saturday in Cala Biosfereta is the starting shot. There will be more.

 

Manifesto read at the June 8 rally in front of the Consell Insular de Menorca

Good afternoon. Good evening, good people.

Today we are here in body and soul. In body, to make visible the concern that we have been accumulating for some time about the path that Menorca is taking and that diverts us from the differentiated route that our island has always had.

But we are also here in spirit, to make it clear that we will not stand idly by if the institutions are unable to react to the growing problems we are experiencing, or if, as they have done in recent days, they make decisions that mean more lack of protection in the face of markets that do not understand limits or ethics.

Menorca has become fashionable. It has become very fashionable. And do you know what things are the most valued in Menorca? The same things that are always shown at fairs and tourist promotions. On these counters they exhibit the preserved Menorca. The virgin beaches, the wide landscapes without buildings, the Camí de Cavalls, the declaration of Menorca as a Biosphere Reserve.

Yes, friends. Those who promote the overcrowding that is affecting Menorca so much, never show the housing estates, nor the hotels of Son Bou, nor the large roundabouts on the roads, nor the saline water that already comes out of many wells. They only show what those who have so often come out to defend is the territory we love and have been able to preserve.

For this reason, it is very shocking that, from certain areas, people want to describe us as anti-tourist, yet we are precisely the people who have always been able to see the differentiated value of the conservation of the landscapes, culture and identity of Menorca.

Seeing how most of the tourism industry is based on showing these values, we have to ask ourselves if those who accuse us of going against the economy, would not perhaps be better off taking some basic courses in economics.

Did you know that the Balearic Islands have tripled the number of tourists but we have dramatically lowered our per capita income? Yes, while we receive more tourists every year and suffer all the inconveniences of overcrowding, we become poorer and poorer. In thirty years, we have gone from being the first or second autonomous community in per capita income to being number 12. With three times as many tourists. Certainly, the presumed experts who tell us that we do not understand economics will have to look at that, because their credibility is lost.

And, we must ask ourselves if those who accuse us of being anti-tourists should not rethink tourism in more precise terms. Because what we are doing today, this citizen demonstration of protest against overcrowding, is once again a cry for help in widespread tourism.

For us, quality tourism is not for those with the most money, nor is it for the all-inclusive pakage. Quality tourism is tourism that appreciates the character of the island, that respects the areas where residents usually live. It is the tourist who does not try to speculate with a territory that has cost so much to preserve. It is the tourist who repeats visiting the island because he has fallen in love with this place.

Menorca, in fact, has done a lot to conserve the coastline and the interior, the landscape and its natural values. Now we are at a time when those who are beginning to be in serious danger are the Menorcans themselves, the resident population. They are the people who live here all year round and know that in summer they cannot go to most beaches. They are the people who see how many of the prices are put up to the level of this misunderstood tourism that ends up turning bars, restaurants and shops in the villages into an elitist offer or without substance, and surrounded by labels empty of reality.

Those who are in danger are the young people who have left the island to train and who then cannot return because almost no qualified professions are generated here. Young people who, if they are lucky enough to be able to return, find themselves with housing prices that are absolutely unaffordable. That in order to emancipate themselves from their family they have to share a flat, as they did when they were students. How do they want us to believe that this is the path of well-being?

The campaign that frames this mobilization has been called Via Menorca. Because we believe that it is essential to find a differentiated path again, which provides a dignified life to the inhabitants of the island and helps us maintain what we want to preserve. It is a campaign that is not only a protest, but includes a list of proposals that, in sum, could help to reorient the wrong course that we have been taking for some time.

The mobilization that has been called today is not the first thing that has been done in relation to the unsustainability of mass tourism and its consequences. In 2021, GOB already edited videos showing worrying indicators of beach saturation, nautical congestion and excessive water consumption. In 2022, different protest events were held as part of the Unsustainable Menorca campaign, which brought people together in places suffering from the effects of overexploitation.

Last year, the Menorca a la Deriva cycle began, which made it possible to open debates and collect the proposals that have nourished the current initiative.

But this year it has become necessary to increase the volume, because the Balearic Government and the Island Council have been announcing several measures that aggravate the situation.

We must remember that until a few days ago these institutions had been communicating that they would eliminate the tourist moratorium. Until a few days ago, they said that it was urgent to eliminate it and, notice, they said that it was especially urgent to do it in Menorca.

This would mean being able to continue granting more tourist places so that even more people could come. It seems that citizen protests in the Canary Islands, Ibiza and Mallorca have changed the government’s discourse. Now they say that they will not lift the tourist moratorium, but they have just approved a decree-law that serves to unprotect the islands from unscrupulous markets.

A few days after the President of the Balearic Government publicly acknowledged the problem of overcrowding; a Decree-Law was published, processed as a matter of urgency and without parliamentary debate, which says that the problem of saturation on the beaches is clarified by making more parking spaces on rustic land. Is this really an emergency?

A Decree-Law that considers it urgent to modify the Law of the Menorca Biosphere Reserve to reduce the mechanisms of defence and citizen participation that were provided therein. Is this so urgent that it cannot even be debated in parliament?

That it considers it urgent to eliminate the agreement established with all the social, economic and political agents of Menorca, so that our island can carry out the decarbonisation process. What is the reason for such a manoeuvre?

That it considers it urgent to eliminate the Environment Commission to turn it into a single-person body, in a position of trust. And they have the audacity to say that they do it to avoid political pressure in decision making.

Meanwhile, in Menorca, the president of the Island Council believes that it is a good idea to open tourist rentals in rural land. Nor does he want to limit the number of vehicles in summer, when Menorca already has the power to do so. How many more vehicles do you need, how many more studies do you plan to commission before making decisions? Don’t you see that all this is part of the same problem?

For all these things and a few more we are here today, body and soul as we said. Today we have converted the Biosphere Square into Cala Biosfereta for a day. To show that we can also protest if we organize ourselves as citizens. To make it clear that we do not give up. To let people know that we know how to combine vindication and humour. So that there is no doubt that we will be there permanently.

We will devote time and energy to combating tourist overcrowding, recovering the right to housing, promoting a rational use of water, and promoting the island’s economic diversity.

Many thanks to all the people who have collaborated enthusiastically in making this concentration possible. If everyone does their part, we will achieve significant things. Cala Biosfereta has been filled today with hope for a better Menorca.

We will meet again. Thank you.