In a recent display of local resentment towards the overwhelming influx of tourists, a series of fake signs have cropped up at various beaches and popular spots on the Balearic island of Mallorca.
The signs, prominently written in English, warn of dangers such as jellyfish, polluted waters, and rock falls, in an attempt to deter foreign visitors from overcrowded locales. However, in smaller script written in Catalan, the signs reveal their true message — highlighting concerns about the environmental and social impacts of mass tourism on the island.
This “anti-tourism” campaign is the brainchild of local anti-capitalist group, Manacor Caterva. Signs have been spotted in areas ranging from Cala Morlanda to Cala Bota in Manacor. One notable sign warns about supposed landslides but reveals in Catalan, “Enter, the danger is not from landslides, it is from overcrowding.” Another misleading direction claims that a picturesque cove is three hours away, yet the real message reads, “Come in, you know how to get there.”
On social media, reactions to the campaign are mixed. While some highlight the environmental degradation caused by tourists and emphasize locals’ rights to enjoy their own land, others criticize the movement, pointing out that tourism is a primary source of income for many.
The group behind the campaign maintains a sense of humor about their activism, even offering to send high-quality prints of their signs to those interested. Their broader message, however, is a serious critique of how capitalism, epitomized by mass tourism, exploits the environment and workers.
Mallorca’s tourism figures are staggering, with the island welcoming 11.4 million visitors in 2022 alone. The overwhelming number of tourists flocking to the island’s beaches and coves is causing tangible environmental damage. As noted by Hans Peter, a German architect, holidaymakers carry away significant amounts of sand, leading to the gradual disappearance of some of the island’s most iconic spots.
This anti-tourism sentiment isn’t confined to Mallorca. In Barcelona, fresh graffiti bearing messages such as “Tourists go home” underscores the growing frustrations of locals in popular Spanish tourist destinations. The question at hand is whether sustainable solutions can be found to balance the needs of the tourism industry with the preservation of local landscapes and cultures.
Photo credit: Manacor Caterva