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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible and United World
Number 7 December 2000

bulletFrom Readers
bulletVisit to Mallorca & Catalunya
 · "Tourists: you are the terrorists!"
 · "The fairest of the fair!"
 · Catalan cultural identity
 · Nova
 · Col·lectiu Ronda
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Visit to Mallorca & Catalunya
"The fairest of the fair!"

Finca S'Olivar, Estellencs, Mallorca
"Is Ibiza really what it seems from afar?", I asked, a bit embarrassed because I didn't really know, but I'm too curious to keep my mouth shut. "Of course not!", one of the crew members kindly reproached me. "This is Mallorca, the fairest!", and once again, he looked to the great window through which we could see Mallorca in all her splendor. Once more, the island had conquered him.

I would get my turn, as well; in fact, soon we would be surrendering to the island's charms. In the course of the preparation of a dossier on tourism, Mallorca was a quick choice. Twelve million tourists visit her each year; in the town of Calvià alone, in the Palma metropolitan area, 1.5 million tourists visit her beaches (see interview). Mallorca, favorite spot of the rich and famous, has also become a mass tourist Mecca. All summer long, her airport is the busiest in Spain, and that's not even counting the many boats and cruise-ships that make stopovers there. The impact on the island and her population is tremendous; it is an irreplaceable source of income for islanders, but at what price? Tourism is no longer the panacea -- it has become the problem.

We cross the island to the north. Mountains tower over the blue sea, leaving us breathless. They remind me of the Charlevoix region of my native Quebec, except for the ever-present olive trees, magnificent Rodin sculptures, symbols of peace, longevity and fertility, taking me quickly back to the Mediterranean.

Luckily, we found accommodation at the Fundación S'Olivar*, in the gorgeous village of Estellencs (which in Catalan, means "bright star" or "valley of stars"), where Joan Carrero, candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, is waiting for us. We will be having a long conversation with him in preparation for the next Caravan report on the theme of the culture of Peace. Also awaiting us is Rosa, in charge of welcoming guests, who will always be watchful to make certain that our stay is as pleasant as possible. And so it will be: we are in love with the place, with its peaceful beauty, and the serenity radiating from it.

We take advantage of our short stay in order to go for a leisurely wander around the village. I duck into a shop to buy some postcards, and I am offered a lovely informative brochure on Mallorca. "Do you understand German?", the lady kindly asks me. "Not a single word", I respond. "What a pity; there aren't any folders in any other language", she said. I leave embarrassed.

Mass tourism, rural tourism, luxury tourism, any kind of tourism, have completely transformed this island over the past thirty years. What does the future hold for Mallorca? More and more, we hear people talk of protecting and respecting the environment, recycling, moderation, citizen involvement, restoring natural and cultural heritage, diversifying the economy, etc. But what does the tourist want, and what do their hosts want? While one walks along the hotel-invaded beaches, with their McDonald's, Chinese, German, Italian restaurants, and shops full of products "made in China", the question takes on an irritating tone.

Sylvie Payette

Contact: Finca S'Olivar, 07192 Estellencs (Mallorca), Baleares, Spain
Tel : +34.977.18.03.87 - +34.977.61.85.36

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1 The Fundación S'Olivar has been in existence since 1992. It comprises a group of friends, supporters of non-violence inspired by Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Lanza del Vasto. It may be defined primarily as a cultural NGO with three main focuses: solidarity, spirituality, and ecology. In Estellencs, the Foundation owns the property called "Finca S'Olivar", made up of a few houses and hermitages, where it offers hospitality and accommodation. It is truly a privileged spot for enjoying the beauty and tranquility of the island during a retreat, or for those who wish to participate in ecumenical and catholic celebrations.

© 2001 Alliance for a Responsible and United World. All rights reserved. Last updated March 2, 2001.