#4 Developing Sustainability in Mallorca

Thursday, 10th August 2023

Destination Specialist


How does an area which relies heavily on tourism implement sustainable practices?

Spain was the second most visited country in the world in 2019 and on the island of Mallorca tourism is the main source of income. On this trip, students will investigate water security, beach preservation and sustainable cities to discover how Mallorca is tackling the impact of tourism on its local environment and on the climate as a whole.

By working with the experienced local fieldwork tutors at the Es Pla Education centre in Mallorca, students will gain an in depth knowledge of topical, modern geography topics in a stunning setting with rugged mountains and sun-soaked beaches.

What will you study:

  • Water Resources
  • Climate Change
  • Eco system conflicts
  • Changing Places
  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Urban change
edu mallorca palma cathedral

Mallorca sustainability by numbers

  • Distance to travel: 835 miles
  • Cost to carbon offset return flights with World Land Trust:£6.81
  • Environmental Performance Index (EPI) Rating: 78.39
  • 80% of Mallorca’s economy is credited to the tourism industry.
  • Population of 1 million with an additional 13.8 million tourists each year.

Day 1- Meet the locals

After arriving in Palma Airport, Spain’s third busiest airport, you will immediately leave the bustle of the city and head to the open plains of the Es Pla Region. This area in the centre of Mallorca is a collection of agricultural landscapes and small towns and villages.

You will visit the village of Sant Joan. Only around 2,000 residents live here, but the village captures the very essence of authentic Mallorcan culture. Students will have the chance to meet some of the lovely people that live in the village. They will try their hand at traditional Mallorcan sports and even learn some of the language. For a real glimpse into how Mallorcan’s live, students will get to have a tour of one of the houses in the village. Here, students will discover how water is managed within the home.

A fantastic discussion topic for students is the issue of water security in Mallorca. The mild winters and hot dry summers results in irregular rainwater supplies and locals live with the threat of drought. Furthermore, it is estimated that tourists consume almost double the amount of water that locals do.

Sant Joan is also the home of the Es Pla Education centre. Students will meet their study guide, who will work with them to evaluate the multiple topics during their time on the island.

Day 2 - What is the price of a beautiful beach?

13.8 million visitors head to the stunning island of Mallorca each year. Many tourists are in search of the golden sands and crystal-clear waters that give Mallorca the reputation of being the ultimate beach resort.  But how has tourism affected the beaches?

 Before mass tourism arrived in Mallorca, coastal processes and systems were largely unaffected by human activity. Mallorca’s coasts were naturally protected by dead seagrass leaves and water transparency was aided by seagrass meadow sediment retention. However, as more and more tourists have arrived in Mallorca, the impact of human interference has been considerable.  As well as increased beach erosion, it has been estimated that 46% of underwater seagrass meadows in Mallorca have been affected.

edu mallorca cala samarador

Students will head to the coast to investigate the situation. They will consider the causes of the decline; the level of awareness among stakeholders, the conflicts between them; and the possibility of applying sustainable coastal management policies.

Day 3 - Experiencing the hidden Mallorca

Your next day in Mallorca will take you to hidden gem of Llevant Natural Park – a protected area which includes mountains, unspoilt beaches and is home to birds, tortoises and unique flora.

Next, students will head below the surface of Mallorca, literally. They will head down into Ham Caves which are 10 million years old, but were only discovered in 1905. Students will appreciate how they were formed over time.

To see a different side of the island, students will visit a local olive oil producer to learn about how this local product is made and even get to taste it too.

edu mallorca llevant natural park start

Day 4 – A sustainable city?

It is time to explore Mallorca’s much-loved capital city – Palma.

Students will collect qualitative and quantitative data to evaluate how Palma is striving towards a more sustainable future. Students will take into consideration the city’s transport, architecture, community, economy, energy and waste management.

They will investigate the benefits of Palma becoming sustainable and question whether the participation of local people is necessary. What more the council can do in order to make the city more sustainable? Who are the stakeholders in the sustainability process and what the positive and negative impacts?

edu mallorca palma city centre and cathedral

Day 5 – Palma

Before heading home, students will get a chance to further explore the city. Of course, students will be able to see the city through the eye of the tourist, exploring some of the iconic landmarks such as the gothic style cathedral and Bellver Castle. But in addition, students will get to explore the home of half the population of Mallorca – further getting to know the people of Mallorca.

edu mallorca palma harbour sunset

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