The Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea have long been popular with holidaymakers. Formentera, Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca are the four largest islands in the Balearics.
Typically, visitors from the UK spend around six days but average stays vary according to the time of the year. Family holidays tend to result in longer stays.
Following a dip during the COVID-19 pandemic, visitor numbers in 2022 bounced back close to 2019 levels. The Balearic Islands have been working to promote attractions beyond the beaches.
Each of the islands has its own promotion agency, focusing on the products specific to the island. Training and fam trips tend to be island specific rather than about the Balearic Islands as a whole.
“We’ve been investing in sports a lot. So there are a lot of fun new cycling routes and hiking routes. You can see there’s been a tremendous explosion in gastronomy, so lots of new restaurants that are really good quality,” said Rosana Morillo, the Balearic Islands’ General Manager of Tourism about recent developments.
Cyclists can follow the Route of the Lighthouses on Menorca. The island’s Cami de Cavalls, a 115-mile coastal trail, is also popular. “In the past it was done with horses and now you can do it cycling, part of it you can do walking and it’s wonderful because there are 52 stations,” explained Morillo.
Walking trails offer a way of exploring the Majorca’s Serra de Tramuntana mountain range.
Repositioning the Balearic Islands
The Balearics is making an effort to shed its reputation as a destination for cheap, boozy holidays. Certain resorts had become associated with loud, drunken behaviour – including jumping from hotel balconies and windows. Laws aimed at curbing excessive alcohol consumption were passed in 2020.
“This has been the first summer where we could start seeing the effects of this new legislation. I have to say, we are really satisfied because we can already see a big drop in the rates of accidents and also police interventions in the area of Magaluf,” commented Morillo in 2022.
Establishments in Magaluf and Playa de Palma, on Majorca, plus the West End in San Antonio, on Ibiza, are no longer permitted to offer inclusive packages that include alcohol. Tickets for pub crawls cannot be sold nor can two-for-one offers and similar happy hour deals. Pubs, hotels and restaurants that do not comply run the risk of high fines.
“This together with a very strong police presence is starting to make a difference,” said Morillo.
Sustainability in focus
“Another pillar is sustainability and circular economy. In June, we launched legislation where we put an obligation for hotels to, for example, use a percentage of local produce,” said Morillo.
Hotels in the Balearic Islands have four years to instal mechanisms to elevate mattresses on beds. The reason? “So that the housekeeper doesn’t have to bend and lift heavy weights,” revealed the General Manager of Tourism. “We are looking not only for sustainability in the environment but also socially, so our workers have a decent salary and working conditions.”
Hotels need to plan circularity. That includes analysing water consumption and how to reduce it, planning how to recycle food waste and what to do with other materials.
“In the next four to five years, we are going to get tremendous change in all the processes that are part of the touristic chain in the Balearic Islands,” predicted Morillo. “We have put in legislation so that there is no other way than then going through this path.”
“We believe that if you don’t put the legislation with a timeline, where companies have to adapt and make changes, it’s possible that some of your touristic sector will adapt some measures but others will not… So if you want to change as a destination, you have to change together,” she added, referencing the ongoing evolution in the Balearic Islands.