Palma to limit cruise ships after environmental concerns

Palma to limit cruise ships after environmental concerns

Balearic Islands officials will search to limit cruise ships to a maximum of three vessels per day at its largest port, a breakthrough deal in Spain

The regional authorities stated in an announcement that arrivals at Palma in Mallorca will be restricted when possible to three cruise ships a day, one of the vessels allowed to be a mega-cruise liner carrying more than 5,000 individuals, beginning in 2022.

Calling the deal historic, officers estimated it will lead to a 13% drop in arrivals to one of the busiest cruise ports of the Mediterranean compared to 2019.

The procession of cruise ships passing via Palma has been a source of friction for years, putting environmental concerns against the financial advantages of a sector which brings as many as eight ships arrive on the same day, disgorging more than 22,000 individuals into the maze of slim streets in Palma.

In 2019, when more than 2.6 million cruise-ship vacationers visited the Balearic Islands, more than 25 organisations joined forces ask for the vessels to be restricted to one arrival a day with and to a maximum of 4,000 vacationers.

“The mega-cruise ship tourism arriving in Palma has grown in a way that is unsustainable and undesirable for our city, leading to serious environmental impact and increasing social protest,” they said in a joint manifesto.

“Tourist overcrowding devalues our historical and cultural heritage, converting urban space into a theme park for visitors only and degrading the tourist experience for others.”

The regional authorities stated the deal had taken more than two years to see the light.

“This means setting, for the first time, a real limit to the arrival of cruise ship passengers to Palma, something that would not have been possible without the will of the sector,” stated Iago Negueruela, the regional official responsible for the economic system and tourism.

Similar offers have been struck for Dubrovnik in Croatia and Aalborg in Denmark, Negueruela told Spanish newspaper El País. “We’re the first to do so in a port as large as Palma.”

As cruise ship arrivals typically are scheduled months upfront, the brand new daily limits would come with fewer than 20 exemption days so as to honour beforehand signed contracts, the federal government stated. As of late, the limit for cruise ship arrivals can be elevated to 4, although the variety of whole passengers can be capped at 59,500 per week.

The five-year deal was criticised by critics and proponents of cruise ship tourism. Some, such as the Platform Against MegaCruises, said little would change.

“Three cruise ships a day – one of them with a capacity of more than 5,000 passengers – still seems to us a very high figure for what the city can bear,” they stated. “The regional government has missed out on the opportunity to make a courageous decision to safeguard residents of the Balearic Islands, their environment, their health and their right to the city.”

The competing platform Yes to Cruises described the push to limit the sector as a "mistake" that might have grave repercussions for the economic system. A 2015 study by the port authority had estimated that tourism linked to cruises supported more than 5,500 jobs and contributed €256m direct and indirect revenues to the area.

The spokesperson for the platform, Álex Fraile, prompted this may set a precedent: “Will the next step be to restrict the arrival of aircraft to [Mallorca’s] Sant Joan airport?”

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