How bad is tourism for the environment?

Heat waves, drought, wildfires – especially the last few weeks have made us more aware of climate change. To what extent does the tourism industry contribute to this?

July 31, 2022, 10:50 am

Last modified: Jul 31, 2022 11:05 AM

Cruise ship travel is by no means climate friendly. Photo: DV


Cruise ship travel is by no means climate friendly. Photo: DV

Ordinarily, Pavel Patrovsky would have been working non-stop at this moment, showing tourists the hidden corners of the old city of Palma, explaining the history of the origin of the cathedral and telling where to try the best tapas. But the 56-year-old guide from the Czech Republic, who arrived in Mallorca in 1988, has more free time than he would like. The demand for his services is scanty in the second COVID summer on the island.

“If it’s four excursions a week, then that’s a lot,” he says. This is much less than in ordinary years, when in August he travels with tourist groups almost every day.

Only two thirds of the hotels are open

The current climate on the resort island has become tense again this summer. Unlike last year, tourist travel is possible again, but not on the same scale as before the coronavirus pandemic.

In July, almost 2.5 million passengers passed through Mallorca airport. This is almost 50% less than in July 2019. The hotel association estimates the average occupancy on the island these days at 65%, while in normal years everything is booked in August. In addition, due to low demand, only two-thirds of the approximately 700 hotels are currently open.

“Now things are better than last year,” says Patrovsky. “But it’s not enough to survive the winter.”

Tens of thousands of islanders working in tourism have a regular income for only six to eight months of the year. Therefore, when things go badly in the summer, this is clearly not enough for many.

“In addition, our country has been experiencing a recession in the economy for several months now,” says Patrovsky.

Now he only shop in cheap supermarkets. He can only partially make ends meet because his wife works in the civil service without crises.

“Despite everything, I consider myself privileged. Others have been hit much harder.”

In the resorts, the hotel sector is struggling to survive

For example, many restaurant owners who for several months were only allowed to open with certain restrictions – if at all. Sometimes only takeaway service was allowed; later, strict restrictions on the number of guests were introduced.

About 40% of businesses will not survive the pandemic, according to Helmut Klemens, vice chairman of the hospitality association. Moreover, the payments of state aid, promised several months ago, have not yet been received.

“Especially in tourist areas along the coast, restaurant owners are struggling to survive,” says a German-born guide who runs several pubs on the island.

And this despite the fact that the tourist season …

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