Freo’s Dream, Palma’s Nightmare

Here’s an interesting issue Fremantle doesn’t have to deal with, and may never have to deal with given Covid still rages worldwide nearly two years on – dealing with clusters of cruise ships in port each day during the season.

The regional government of the Spanish Balearic Islands, which include Mallorca, have just announced a 5 year arrangement, starting in 2022, whereby cruise ship arrivals at the popular port of Palma will be limited to three a day, with only one allowed to be a mega-cruiser carrying more than 5,000 ‘guests’.

Palma. Credit crew-center.com

It has been estimated this will result in a 13% drop in arrivals at Palma compared with 2019.

The number of cruise ships passing through Palma has been a source of friction between those logging environmental concerns and those counting the economic benefits of having as many as eight ships arrive on the same day, disembarking more than 22,000 tourists into Palma’s old town.

In 2019, when more than 2.6 million cruise-ship tourists visited the Balearic Islands, more than 25 organisations joined forces to call for cruise ships to be limited to one arrival a day with a maximum of 4,000 tourists.

These organisations contended –

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.

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.

Similar rules apply in Dubrovnik in Croatia and Aalborg in Denmark.

However not everyone wanting cruise caps is happy. The new rule was criticised by the Platform Against MegaCruises, which said little would seemingly 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.

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.

But another group, Yes to Cruises considers the rule an “error” that could have grave repercussions for the local economy, referring to a 2015 study by the port authority that estimated tourism linked to cruises supported more than 5,500 jobs and contributed €256m in direct and indirect revenues to the region.

The Artania leaving Fremantle April 2021

As we say, this isn’t a problem for Freo, but perhaps it’s one some would love to have!

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