Sunday, July 09, 2017

Germans Taking Umbrage

When Maria Antonia Munar and Celesti Alomar, respectively the former president of the Council of Mallorca and regional tourism minister, once advocated a greater quality of tourist and took particular aim at the Germans, the reaction was one of outrage in Germany. Or one should say among certain elements of that country's media. As always, the words of the politicians were blown out of proportion, but the press in Germany, e.g. Bild, managed to whip up sufficient offence for the number of German tourists to fall sharply in 2002 (there were other factors, i.e. the ecotax and a faltering German economy at the time).

There is now something of a repetition. Palma's mayor Antoni Noguera has referred to "rubbish" tourists from Germany (his term might also be translated as junk or even scum). Bild has taken umbrage and so have opposition politicians in Palma. Irresponsible, says the PP's Marga Duran, ignoring the fact that Noguera was talking about recent incidents which quite clearly demonstrate that there is a breed of German tourist (in Playa de Palma) which is indeed rubbish.

The non-Bild-reading Germans will be among those agreeing with Noguera. He has called out a sector of German tourism and was not wrong to have done so. What Bild and some others might care to reflect on is the fact that this issue does crop up fairly repeatedly. The message might eventually get through.

The difference now is that Noguera has taken specific aim at behaviour. Munar and Alomar were more concerned with spending power, as was - in 2013 - the then deputy mayor with tourism responsibilities Alvaro Gijón. He had advocated a policy of increasing quality in Playa de Palma. His words were misinterpreted, Bild believing that "our favourite island" was coming to an end. Gijón was planning a resort for the rich in "Germany's most popular party zone". The assault on Gijón and the defence of German tourists was such that the paper took issue with any attempt to deny tourists the right to take "buckets of sangria" onto the beach.

One of the images of Playa de Palma over the years (and it is the case elsewhere) has been the bucket of booze with long straws. There is now renewed talk of banning supermarkets from selling the booze buckets, which is another aspect of the general attempt to eliminate rubbish tourism on a broad scale in Mallorca. It was this image that Bild defended, and so also defended the right of German tourists to get drunk. The headline was something along the lines of "hands off Ballermann", i.e. let the tourists drink at Balneario 6, which has long been the epicentre of drunken tourism.

A further difference now is that Noguera's rubbish tourism is not confining itself to the earlier season. Residents' groups are saying that it extends into the main season and they are identifying a type of tourism which unashamedly only comes to drink. As such, therefore, moves to promote greater quality in tourism and to place families, responsible tourists in general over the low-grade category are failing. Once more, the tour operators need to share some of the blame. But above all, it is the tourists themselves who are to blame. Rubbish tourists? Kick 'em out.

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