“The Serra de Tramuntana was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO under the Cultural Landscape category. This is the international community’s acknowledgement of the near-perfect symbiosis between the action of human beings and nature, which has occurred for centuries, resulting in a monumental work by humans in which culture, traditions, aesthetics, spirituality and identity are merged. The cultural landscape of the Serra is the fruit of the exchange of knowledge between cultures, with small-scale works performed collectively for a productive end, conditioned by the limitations imposed by the physical medium. Limitations overcome by knowledge and the intelligent use of resources, without destroying the medium. And it is also the recreation of a region through the collective imagination and works by artists who have found inspiration in it. According to the European Landscape Convention, Cultural Landscape is an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and reaction of natural and/or human factors. This would suggest that the aim is not only to maintain the Serra as it is now. It is also to improve human intervention, promoting it with sustainable activities in accordance with certain objectives.”
Mallorca is well known for big hotel resort complexes and large group package holiday tours. Known as Spain’s largest holiday island, Mallorca supports 456,000 residents and 13.6 million tourists. (2019). Most holiday tourists visit Mallorca, primarily in the summer and especially in August. The explosive summer tourism gives Mallorca a reputation of mega-resorts, crowded beaches, and packed parking facilities. But the west/northwest side of Mallorca is different. The Tramuntana coastal mountainous region of 40,000 residents is known for the grandeur of its mountain peaks, it’s traditional stone villages, it’s crystal-clear sea coves, and its rugged-historic hiking trails. In June 2011, the cultural landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The designation of the Tramuntana as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has brought tremendous tourist interest to this region and had resulted in growing incomes which are important to sustaining the region and also growing tourist impacts which threaten the environment and unique characteristics of this region.
In an effort to balance economic development with environmental and sustainability goals, the Tramuntana Business Accelerator was founded to help establish new models for sustainable tourism in the region.
In its study of tourism in Mallorca’s Tramuntana region, the Business Accelerator found:
- Cruise ship bus tours had high environmental impact and very low to negative financial benefit to the region, local sites and villages
- The concentration of tourism in the peak summer months and especially during the August European holidays created numerous problems, negative environmental impact and low tourist satisfaction
- Impossible parking situations & heavy automobile traffic
- Overly crowded beaches, parks and facilities
- High peak lodging costs which taint the region as “overly expensive.”
- Proliferation of tourist T-shirt types shops and an ongoing decline of retail that better served residents and long term guests
- Mallorca’s three month rental limit for short term rental properties caused heavy concentration of rentals during the summer months and low inventory during most of the year. This concentration impacts the viability of local business outside of the tourist peak.
- However, visitors to the Tramuntana region during the off-peak months and especially during the winter months had much higher satisfaction and rated their visits better in terms of weather, costs, and quality of the experience.
- Smaller boutique hotels, which amount to 74% of total guest rooms, were not doing well financially and property owners largely blamed the proliferation of Airbnb home stays.