Spain has seen a massive increase in tourism, leading to overcrowded tourist sites and soaring rents. From July this year, the city of Palma on Mallorca in the Balearic Islands, is planning to ban apartments being rented out to visitors.

Mallorca’s capital is the first to ban holiday rental apartments while many other large cities struggle with mass tourism and overcrowded tourist sites. According to José Hila, the head of city planning, there will be holiday rentals available, but only where there needs to be.

Government experts made decision after several studies

As reported by the Guardian, three governing alliances, the PSOE, Més per Mallorca and Podemos, have made extensive studies relating to tourism and agreed to the holiday rental ban. Palma’s Mayor, Antoni Noguera, said the city is bold and decisive and local government had agreed due to general interest. Palma’s leaders believe this will start a trend with other popular tourist cities when they realize that finding balance with tourists is key.

Unlicensed tourist holiday rental apartments

The problem relates to a large number of unlicensed holiday properties in Spain, which grew by 50 percent in the years between 2015 and 2017.

Palma is Spain’s 8th largest city. However, only 645 holiday rental properties have the correct licensing.

Due to the huge number of unlicensed holiday rentals, TripAdvisor recently received a fine for advertising these properties. However it is the local residents, along with workers who commune from their homes in Mallorca to the mainland that are badly affected by tourism.

The short-term rental prices have increased by an average of 40 percent since 2013.

A zoning project will be approved on Thursday and will then receive a final vote in July. At that stage, visitors who seek holiday rental apartments will not be able to find them in residential housing areas of Palma in Mallorca. They will, however, have a choice of single-family, detached homes to choose from, which will not be affected by the ban.

They will also be able to stay in the many apartment hotels in Palma.

Huge numbers of unlicensed holiday apartments leads to fines

El Pais reports that with approximately 11,000 holiday properties currently available in the city, only 645 have the correct licensing. There had, according to El Pais, previously been 20,000 holiday rental apartments on offer, but after new legislation came into power, with fines of around €400,000 for apartment owners advertising their illegal rental on the Balearic Islands, many stopped renting their properties.

The popular holiday accommodation specialists Airbnb were fined with that amount in February. Noguera said the ban is intended to protect residents of the city, who have been overwhelmed by tourist numbers and noise in their areas.