A message from one of our readers recently dropped into the abcMallorca mailbox that caused an unusual degree of interest and debate amongst the office. It started off thanking us for how informative and helpful our magazine is at recommending new restaurants and events (you’re welcome!) However, it went on to bemoan the tendency of “mass media” to share “local secrets” with the wider world, and spoiling them for the residents who had thus far managed to keep these to themselves.
Specifically, we had mentioned their favourite and relatively unknown local beach in a ‘hidden places’ article and they feared an “invasion” of tourists because of it.
It is undeniable that us journalists have a – some might say unhealthy – obsession with sniffing out the ‘secret spot’, the ‘unspoilt beach’, the ‘hidden gem’. While the top 10…20…50 best this, that, or the other remain a popular staple of travel writing, it is woven into the fabric of the industry to seek out something new – a scoop, if you will.
The issue is certainly made more acute on Mallorca, where unchecked tourism is already seeping into and impacting so many corners of the island. While plenty of holidaymakers are happy to squeeze onto a busy beach, or venture little further than the hotel pool bar, many also look for a little more substance. And you can’t blame visitors for coming to the island to seek out the more authentic Mallorca, to dine where the locals do, shop in traditional markets, and discover the untouched coves away from the tourist hoards.
But while you could say we have a duty to our readers to share everything that is wonderful, unique, and magical about the island on which we live, perhaps we also have a responsibility to keep what is unspoilt just that. The obvious irony is that once a secret is shared is it no longer secret, when a hidden gem is exposed it is often tarnished, and if enough people hear about an unspoilt beach, it won’t stay like that for long.
Ultimately, there will always be tension between the need to protect the island – both its local character and natural beauty – and the insatiable human urge for fresh exploration and adventure. At abcMllorca we will continue to celebrate and share our knowledge, experience, and love of the island, while encouraging everyone to treat those extra secret, hidden places with the extra respect and care that they deserve.
According to the Mallorca restaurants association, there has been a 20% drop in turnover this summer (put down to the negative impact of new holiday rental regulations). And while the better known eateries in the busy resorts are at least guaranteed plenty of passing trade, the smaller, independent restaurants are more likely to feel the pinch. A good review or even a mention can really put an otherwise little-known restaurant on the map. And while the locals might begrudge an influx of tourists, few establishments would shun the extra business.
A further point could be made that we write as much for the long-term resident as for the transient visitor. We who live here have as much, if not more, interest in exploring, learning, and experiencing our island home beyond the obvious and oversubscribed tourist traps and attractions.
We are all guilty of wanting to escape the crowds and find our own little piece of paradise to enjoy.