‘Germans are coming back’: Spaniards sceptical over return of tourists

Germans will be allowed to travel to the popular Spanish island of Mallorca at Easter, which many hope will revive the flailing tourism industry. Yet many in Spain are asking if allowing an influx of tourists is worth it.

'Germans are coming back': Spaniards sceptical over return of tourists
German tourists in Mallorca in June 2020. Photo: DPA

After the travel warning for Mallorca was lifted, many people in Germany are already packing their bags for the popular destination, in real life or at least in their thoughts. 

Bookings are increasing rapidly on the coronavirus-plagued Spanish vacation island, and rekindling a positive outlook for tourism after months of doom-and-gloom. 

“This is fantastic news,” the German-language “Mallorca Zeitung” quoted tourist guide Adán André Alomar. Without a return of tourists, “the island would die of hunger,” Alomar continued. 

“The best news ever,” also cheered Ballermann restaurateur Juan Miguel Ferrer, pointing out that he saw “the light at the end of the tunnel”. 

As of Sunday, Mallorca and the entire Balearic archipelago were no longer considered to be risk areas for travel due to a vastly improved epidemiological situation there.

READ ALSO: Germany set to lift travel warning for parts of Spain and Portugal

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) confirmed on its website on Friday that the regions no longer had enough infections to be considered risk areas.

After the Berlin decision, Ferrer, who heads the interest group “Palma Beach”, and his fellow campaigners – hoteliers, restaurant owners and other entrepreneurs – immediately announced the reopening of at least 15 hotels for a total of 4,000 visitors for the Easter weekend starting April 2nd. 

The respected analyst Miguel Otero tweeted, “The Germans are coming back!”

A win-win situation? Not so fast

Sun, beach and sangria for some, economic stimulus and ringing cash registers for others – a typical win-win situation? That’s not necessarily the case. 

Countless people in Spain are fuming. Until April 9th, according to a recent decision by the central government, locals are only allowed to leave their region in rare exceptional cases.

Visiting relatives or vacationing outside their own “autonomous community,” for example, are strictly forbidden. Germans and citizens of other countries, meanwhile, are allowed into the country with virtually no obstacles. From high risk countries, a PCR test is sufficient.

That’s why people are ranting everywhere these days. In cafés, in the media, on television, on the internet. And also in politics. Especially in the capital of Madrid, where residents are known to be particularly proud, argumentative and self-confident and are reluctant to be told what to do, the Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has become the bogeyman. 

The conservative regional government is ranting particularly loudly: “It is incomprehensible that someone from Madrid is not allowed to move freely in Spain, and a Frenchman, a German or a Belgian can enter,” criticized Health Minister Enrique Ruiz Escudero.

“Spain will be a bunker for Spaniards and an oasis for tourists from abroad at Easter,” headlined the newspaper “ABC” over the weekend.

READ ALSO: Will it be possible to go on holiday in Germany over Easter?

The paper “Última Hora” spoke of “arbitrariness”, and even the Mallorca Zeitung stated: “Easter vacations in Mallorca: for Germans yes, for Spaniards no”.

On the Internet, the indignation is no less great, with hundreds of daily complaints. “Let’s see if I got this right: I live in the south of Madrid. So at Easter, my daughter, who lives in Germany, is allowed to visit me, but my son, who lives in Illescas just five kilometres away from me, he’s not allowed to? Very logical,” Yeni protested on Twitter. 

Twitter user Jiménez Caballero also expressed surprise: “At Easter, I’m not allowed to go to my vacation home on the beach, but my neighbour who lives in Germany is allowed to?”

Could tourists cause a spike in numbers?

This is not just a matter of frustration, envy and lack of understanding. After the number of coronavirus cases in Spain has been rapidly reduced recently in the wake of sometimes very strict restrictions, many are afraid tourists from countries with significantly higher levels – and that includes Germany – could cause a new coronavirus wave.

Too well remembered are the images of the summer of 2020, when after months of lockdown with “house arrest” and border closures, tourism was allowed again and drunken vacationers from Germany and the UK partied wildly at Ballermann without following social distancing protocols, flirting with strangers at close range and hugging street vendors.

READ ALSO: ‘We’re very glad to be there’: German tourists fly to Mallorca in post-Covid pilot project

On the Balearic Islands themselves, scepticism has also mixed with joy. Yet the people on the Mediterranean islands know better than any other Spaniards that they cannot survive without tourists. 

The travel industry accounts for 35 percent of regional income here, compared with “only” 12 percent for Spain as a whole. In the wake of the pandemic and the restrictions on freedom of travel, unemployment and poverty grew dramatically on the Balearic Islands – more than anywhere else in Spain. 

The queues in front of the food banks are still getting a little longer every day.

Still, many here are against allowing tourism. “This is the best way to become a risk area again,” said well-known island cartoonist Pau to the Mallorca Zeitung. 

“For a season that is mediocre at best,” he said, travellers are putting “even more lives at risk.”

Musician Isis “Apache” Montero said: “As long as we residents are subject to restrictions during Easter week – only gatherings of no more than two households, closing of bars and restaurants at 5 p.m., curfew etc. – they should not let anyone in who does not have his primary residence in Mallorca.”

Speaking to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Joan Trian Riu, managing director of the major Majorcan hotel chain Riu Hotels & Resorts, appealed for common sense: “Tourists need to behave responsibly.” 

Member comments

    1. Yep, completely crazy. The ones that will go wil not care, come back with Covid, & then it’s even lomger til I can get back to work
      If they wan to go they should be Isolated BEFORe the flight Home AND after – and not Isolation at Home, straight into a Covid Hotel from Baggage pick up.

  1. So ICU doctors in Germany are asking for further lockdowns, and the government is happy for dumb, selfish people to travel and prolong the misery for so many – and destroy families – in Germany?

    You could not make this up.

  2. I am not sure that travel itself is the biggest issue here, but rather that the types of people that would travel to this location during Easter are self selected from the selfish and drunk YOLO subcategory of humans. The only potential saving grace is that these vacationers will likely be spending time outside where transmission rates are lower.

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Is Leipzig really Germany’s ‘ultimate travel destination’?

The Saxonian city of Leipzig has been named by traveller’s bible Lonely Planet as its “ultimate” travel tip for Germany. Does the Local Germany’s knowledgeable readership agree?

The city centre of Leipzig.
The city centre of Leipzig. Photo: Jan Woitas/dpa-Zentralbild

Long a cult favourite among Germany fans, the left-wing city of Leipzig appears to now be gaining mainstream recognition after the Lonely Planet crowned it the country’s top travel destination this week.

In a new book titled “Ultimate German Travel Destinations – the top 250”, the travel publisher put Leipzig ahead of picturesque getaways such as Lake Constance and the Zugspitze as its number one destination.

“The hype that some say surrounds the city isn’t hype t all: Leipzig really is hipper than Berlin, and hotter than Munich, especially among millennials,” the guidebook boldly claims.

It goes on to lavish praise on the city of 600,000 inhabitants as “young, exciting, multifaceted – sometimes colourful, sometimes grey – and with a vibrant liveliness.”

“Everyone wants to go to the city where the anti-GDR demonstrations started,” the guidebook continues. “It is the home of Auerbachs Keller (made famous by Goethe and Faust); it’s the city of street art and wave gothic festivals; and its artistic scene at the Baumwollspinnerei is second to none.”

READ ALSO: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

‘Not cooler than Berlin’

Reaction to the list among the Local’s readership was mixed.

“It is a beautiful city and it’s easy to navigate. I find it hard to say that it’s cooler than Berlin, though. Berlin simply has more,” one reader told us on Facebook. “It’s the kind of place where people find their ‘spot.” I think most people in Leipzig know about most places in Leipzig. It’s a much smaller city. That may just be a more favourable lifestyle for some.”

Praise for Saxony’s biggest city ranged from admiration for the beauty of its architecture (particularly its train station) to the vibrancy of its arts scene.

Others suggested that Leipzig is indeed overhyped and that it can’t compete with natural wonders such as the pristine Königssee in the Bavarian Alps.

Lake Constance wins silver

Lake Constance, the country’s largest body of fresh water, came in second on the list.

The authors praised the southern See, which borders Switzerland and Austria, for “the many beautiful spots on its shores: Lindau, Meersburg, Überlingen, Constance and more – often surrounded by lush orchards.”

A regatta on the Bodensee in September 2021. Photo: dpa | Felix Kästle 

Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie concert hall came in third. 

“It’s impossible to imagine the Hanseatic city’s skyline without this glass work of art, which soars into the sky above the harbour like a frozen wave,” the book notes.

Also in the top ten were the Wattenmeer, which is a huge nature reserve on the North Sea coast, Berlin’s museum island, the sandstone hills of Saxony, and Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze in Bavaria.