Monday, September 26, 2016

Humanising Tourism: Cala Millor

If you go hunting on the steam internet, you can unearth old copies of local publications: local, as in a municipality's or even parts of municipalities. One of the pearls (pun intended) to be found is a copy of Manacor's "Perlas y Cuevas" (pearls and caves) dated 17 September, 1983. The cover of this edition is interesting for different reasons. One, almost incidentally, is that there is a photo of the first president of the Balearics, Gabriel Cañellas: he'd become president on 10 June that year.

Cañellas was thus a symbol of the new democracy, albeit that it had taken over seven years from the time of Franco's death for autonomous government to arrive in the Balearics. Of further interest is the name which appears under the title: the magazine's director, i.e. editor, Rafael Ferrer Massanet. And why is he of interest? Well, for one thing he had set the magazine up in the early 1960s. Another was that he was a considerable writer, journalist and historian. Among his interests was the study of the Civil War, in which - where Mallorca was concerned - Manacor had played a significant role. It was Manacor's coast - Porto Cristo - where Captain Alberto Bayo's Republicans made one of their landings in August eighty years ago; the mission was of course to prove to be a total disaster. The other landing was at Punta Amer in neighbouring Sant Llorenç.

He was also a lyricist and penned the words to "hits" by one of the leading Mallorcan pop groups of the 1960s - Los 5 del Este, whose fame was initially acquired in Cala Millor. With such titles as "Sí, sí, sí", their collected works were typical of the time: light, undemanding pop that would never give the censors cause for concern.

The picture one has of Ferrer Massanet is of a highly cultured man - he also established the first private art gallery in Manacor - yet one who was not turned off by the arrival of tourism. Writers of his vintage weren't necessarily kind to the onset of mass tourism, though most of this criticism was delayed until after Franco had died. "Perlas y Cuevas" was never solely about tourism of course (it is, incidentally, still going), but tourism played a significant role in its coverage. Ferrer Massanet appeared to embrace it, warts and all. In 1969, for instance, the magazine carried a glowing interview with Jaume de Juan Pons, who was responsible for the Playa Moreia hotel in S'Illot. The story of that hotel, apocryphal possibly, was that in 1963 he turned up in a Seat 600, took a shovel out of the car and started digging. The hotel opened the following year.

And so one comes to that September 1983 edition. Ferrer Massanet was still the editor, his name, as it had always been, under the title. But what else do we see on that cover? There is a photo - black and white. A coastline. Buildings, some several stories high. It's Cala Millor. Yet, why is Cala Millor featuring in a Manacor publication? The headline tells the story - "Bahia Cala Millor" (Cala Millor bay). The resort has its own odd story, but it doesn't extend to being in three municipalities: only the two - Sant Llorenç and Son Servera. What we in fact see is more than Cala Millor, because here is the conurbation that emerged on the east coast, one that crosses the border of Sant Llorenç into the Manacor part (the larger part) of S'Illot.

That particular issue was marking the fact that the tourist fiestas were taking place; the fourth time that they had been staged. One assumes that it was Ferrer Massanet who wrote on the cover about travellers whose lives might be full of traumas being able to forget their problems. Why? Because Cala Millor would allow them to. In addition, under the heading "Bahia Cala Millor" it reads ... "and the humanisation of international tourism".

That one word, humanisation, can now perhaps seem strange. In the context of current debates regarding "massification" and "saturation", here was a tribute to the humanising qualities of mass tourism. The photo was evidence of that tourism, the conurbation of the bay of Cala Millor.

One might say, well it was 33 years ago. It was indeed, but by 1983 there was a full-scale debate going on about the future of tourism and of the legacy created by coastal developments. The photo of Cañellas was, with hindsight, not so incidental. The first regional government set about attempting to legislate for what were being perceived as errors of the past. Where Ferrer Massanet was concerned, or so it appeared, those errors were not as great as were being argued. "Sí, sí, sí", Cala Millor, the human face of Mallorcan tourism.

No comments: