Mallorca has amassed its wealth from a tourism that also buoys up a construction industry that would collapse without it. Both are powerful lobbies. Country lanes have been widened and motorways built to move tourists rapidly from airport to hotel and back again. Concrete promenades bisect villages from shores that were, not long ago, accessible only by boat.
Golf courses are hailed as a means of extending the summer season, but fees are expensive and there are warmer, dryer places on the mainland, with more exciting courses. Although apparently designed by famous golfers, the courses are too short to tempt established players to lend their cachet to the Island. Golf courses alone are not profitable for their developers; it’s the attendant hotels, houses and swimming pools that add up to a healthy bottom line.
Yachting is popular but only in summer, and then only for two months when marinas are full. Every year there is a clamour to build more. The Government resists such pressure and, in an effort to spare the underwater Posidonia oceanica meadows, has set up ecological buoys where boats can moor without anchoring to the bottom.
The centre of the island has not escaped unharmed. New build, in the ubiquitous chalet mould, mars many a beauty spot but planning permission now takes into account the site and the nearby flora and fauna. Construction may be held up while planners find ways to protect rare orchids and bird habitat. Penalties have been introduced for crimes against wildlife, such as poisoning, where Black Vultures or the Red Kite, the latter still under threat of extinction, are frequent victims.
The local government which is damned if it does and if doesn’t, has protected some 40% of the Island and established many nature parks. In the last few years, it has used central government funding to buy large estates, and refurbished them for public use. The Island of Cabrera is a National Land and Sea Park.