How the new Balearic Islands' sustainability laws could change your next holiday
The Balearic Islands are spending a whopping $61.5 million on a new tourism initiative — putting sustainability at its core. It could be the wave of the future for many destinations.
By law, hotel bathrooms in Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera will soon be required to ditch any miniature shampoos, shower gels and other bathroom knick-knacks that are considered single-use.
If you're the type of vacationer who likes to collect various tiny bottles of toiletry products, this might be upsetting. However, this will presumably mean that on non-budget bookings, hotel rooms will likely be stocked with larger products – so you hopefully won't run out of these amenities after your epic post-flight shower on day one.
Showers, baths, sinks and other facilities will need to install water-saving devices, and toilets will specifically be required to have double-push buttons.
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Hotels will be required to limit their use of paper and plastics, such as swapping printed leaflets for digital QR codes. At the very least, this will mean you might have another app to download ahead of certain stays.
Hotels and other tourism businesses, such as bars, will have to optimize electric usage, make use of rainwater and switch oil boilers for gas or a natural energy source. The transition to eco-friendly boilers and electric usage will likely depend on where you're staying in how it affects your pre-cocktail pampering sessions, but we'd expect the obvious effects to be minimal for most.
Locally sourced food and products will become a top priority — particularly when it comes to fish. Seafood sourced from the Balearics will become traceable under the new law, while the sale of any endangered species is also banned.
In theory, this might also mean fewer big-brand products on tap, which might not feel ideal if you're the type that pines for home comforts on holiday. That said, it should be a boost for the local economy, and who knows, you could discover some new favorite products to rave home about.
Another interesting development is that existing beds in hotels will also be reviewed — providing new, elevated beds by 2023. This is a measure designed to limit workplace accidents for hotel staff.
How well hotels adapt to the new sustainable approach will be reflected in a rating — a new system that will be implemented to show which properties are embracing a more sustainable approach to operating, and which aren't.
The president of the Balearic Islands, Francina Armengol, said in a statement: “The tourism sector in the Balearic Islands is primarily interested in continuing to adopt cutting edge tourism innovation.
Related: Ibiza, Mallorca or Menorca: How to choose the right Balearic Island for your holiday
“The new laws bring together a series of measures which will allow a more inclusive and sustainable form of economic growth; an improvement to the cohabitation of workers, residents, and tourists; a more efficient use of resources; as well as boosting public-private collaboration, in line with the guidelines established for the allocation of European funds.”
Back in March 2021, environmental campaigners Plastic Free Balearics welcomed the government outlawing certain single-use items.
All four islands barred the sale of items such as plastic cutlery, coffee capsules, cotton buds and disposable razors. It's definitely worth keeping this in mind when you pack if you usually tend to pick these products up at your destination.
At the time, the group said: “New regulations come into play as the Balearic Waste Law bans the sale, distribution, and use of various types of single-use products. Plastic Free Balearics welcomes this pioneering law and pledges to complement it through an ambitious certification scheme.”
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Ibiza, Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera also introduced the Sustainable Tourism Tax in 2016, which charges travelers a small fee per night (varying depending on the quality of your accommodation).
The money is then put into environmental conservation, as a way to offset the impact of mass tourism during the summer high-season.
Because, well, the Balearics get busy. Very busy. Especially pre-pandemic. Back in 2019, a national survey of Spanish tourism showed that 13.6 million holidaymakers flocked to the archipelago over the course of one year. Statista also says that 3.7 million Brits visited the Balearics in 2019.