Invasions of Mallorca

by : Kim Davis

The island of Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic chain,
which lies off the eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain. Thanks
to its rugged topography, balmy climate, and old world architectural
charm, Mallorca has been a favorite of European tourists since the
1960's. Many Americans have found their way to Mallorca as well, but
Americans do not have the advantage of the cheap air and rail fares
that the Europeans enjoy. The history of the Balearics is rich and
culturally diverse. The islands' numerous protected ports have made
them a logical stop along the trade routes of sailors for centuries,
consequently the influences of African, Asian, and diverse European
peoples is seen throughout the indigenous culture.

The 1960's saw a massive influx of tourists from first
France, and then England and finally Germany as dictator Francisco
Franco relaxed his foreign policy in the latter years of his life. On
Mallorca, the first wave of tourists to fall in love with
and "invade" the island was French. Since the Mallorquin people
never really accepted Spanish rule, and still consider themselves
first Mallorquin, and second Catalan, accepting their French
neighbors was not a long stretch. The Mallorquin people, by nature
are very capitalistic; therefore, though they grumble about the
foreigners, they quickly learn their languages and find ways to take
their money.

On a larger and more unattractive scale, the "English
invasion" which came in the late 60's was accompanied by under-
regulated construction of budget tourist accommodations, and
nightclubs. Fortunately this budget class tourist tends to seek sun,
sand, and sex, and they have proven to be satisfied with one or two
infamous coastal towns designed for their pleasure. Many of the
young English tourists on package holidays spend their entire
fortnight visit drinking and chasing the opposite sex in the town
of Magaluf, and never venture any further. This arrangement
worked relatively well for the islanders for 25 years. The ugly
tourists rarely encroached on their homes. The government of
Mallorca, to their credit, learned a lesson from this period of
unchecked development, and has since become quite strict about
new construction. No longer does one see the poorly constructed
high-rise eyesores of 30 years ago. These unattractive buildings
are gradually being renovated or replaced.

The wealthy, well-healed tourists carved their niche on the
dramatic Northwestern coast from Estellencs through Valledmossa,
Deia, and Soller. Here, care was taken to preserve the beautiful
old fincas, and a number of them became small exclusive hotels
and resorts. This area was always more exclusive than the more
accessible regions of the island because of the Serra de
Tramuntana Mountain range which divides it from the rest of the
island. Up until the late 1990's when the EEC began to make
money available for major development, even the major roads
leading to the Northwestern coastal towns were very narrow and
poorly maintained. The trip to Deia from the airport at Palma
took over an hour even though the actual distance is only about
30 km as the crow flies. Now, however, new roads have made
travel much easier.

Today Mallorca is home to quite a few expatriate residents
from England, and America, but many of these long-term residents are
leaving due to the current "German Invasion." As European Union
became a certainty in the 90's, Germans afraid of loosing money
with the equalization of the European currencies began to flood
Mallorca spending exorbitant sums on properties and businesses
where the rate of exchange worked in their favor. The net result
of all this German investment was rapid, massive inflation on the
island. Now, less than ten years later, no native Mallorquin can
afford to buy property. On entering any restaurant, foreign
guests now are addressed in German first. Upon learning that the
guest is not German, many waiters will visibly relax, and if the
guest speaks Spanish or Mallorquin, the waiter will often indulge
in a bit of good-natured "German-bashing."

The negative effects of tourism long ago seeped through the
very fabric of life on Mallorca. Now, however, with the dramatic
escalation of prices the locals can no longer afford to buy houses.
Maintenance work for those who already own their houses can only be
done at outlandish prices since wages have increased to compensate.
The Germans have been chilly neighbors, fortifying their properties
with impenetrable walls to keep prying eyes away.

Now, however, the financial advantages for the Germans have
evaporatedFree Articles, and the other expatriate residents are expecting
property prices to return to a more affordable level.