15,000 Spaniards Sing 'Tourists Go Home'

15,000 Spaniards Sing 'Tourists Go Home'

Massive Protest in Majorca Targets Tourists Amid Soaring Property Prices

Majorca, Spain – May 27, 2024 — Around 15,000 locals took to the streets of Majorca in a significant protest, booing and jeering at tourists to express their anger over the dramatic rise in property prices on the Balearic island over the past decade. The demonstration started in the capital, Palma, and moved towards Weyler Square, a popular spot for tourists seeking dinner and drinks.

Chants of "tourists go home" echoed through the streets as activists held banners with messages like "Salvem Mallorca, guiris arruix," which means "let's save Majorca, foreigners out" in Catalan Spanish. Another banner read: "Wherever you look, they're all guiris." The term "guiri" colloquially refers to foreign holidaymakers, often with a negative connotation due to their reputation for heavy drinking.

Locals' frustration stems from property prices in Majorca more than doubling in the last decade, making the Balearic Islands the second most expensive region in Spain after Madrid. Since 2014, the average cost of a typical 80 square-meter home has surged by 208%, from £126,000 to £263,000, according to the Spanish property website Fotocasa. This increase is in stark contrast to the national average, which rose by only 29% over the same period. The island's average annual salary is around £15,324, making homeownership increasingly unattainable for locals.

Campaigners attribute the sharp price increase to foreign investors converting family homes into tourist accommodations. This weekend's protest was the largest of its kind since anti-tourism demonstrations in the Canary Islands last month. It followed a similar protest in Ibiza, where 1,000 activists took to the streets on Friday night.

The Palma protest was organized by Banc del Temps, a campaign group vocal about the rising property prices. Spokesman Javier Barbero declared, "This is just the start. If measures aren't taken, we will continue taking to the streets until we see action."

Another group, "Majorca is not up for sale," praised the protest organizers, stating, "You are heroes and you have made history." They called for urgent government action, urging Balearic Islands' government president Marga Prohens to meet with the activists.

Following the protest, Banc del Temps released a manifesto demanding that only residents of at least five years be allowed to buy property and calling for a temporary ban on holiday rentals. "This island should be a place where our children can grow up with safety and dignity, with controlled tourism that doesn't condition our lives," said a spokesperson.

Laura Lau of Banc del Temps told MailOnline, "Houses and apartments that were family homes have been bought by foreign investors who rent them out to tourists, leaving nothing for local people. This is why property prices in Majorca have reached unaffordable levels. We are in a housing emergency."

The protest has divided opinions among foreign holidaymakers. Some tourists expressed support for the locals' plight, while others accused the activists of "biting the hand that feeds them."

Another Majorcan-based association, Menys Turisme, is planning a more radical protest, with discussions of staging a demonstration at Palma Airport during peak tourist season.

As the Balearic Islands continue to grapple with these complex issues, the call for comprehensive solutions to balance tourism and affordable housing for residents grows ever more urgent.

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