LOCAL residents in Mallorca’s Playa de Palma are furious at plans to use the area for a pilot tourism project aimed at determining the best safety procedures and measures for holiday locations in the new coronavirus threat normal, claiming they will effectively be ‘guinea pigs.’
Businesses grouped together under the Palma Beach brand announced on Wednesday they will open on July 1 for an international study “to learn about suitable protocols and processes which will then be applied in the rest of the destinations.”
The idea is to receive the first German tourists coming into the island via what Palma Beach chief executive Juan Miguel Ferrer said will be “safe air corridors” between Germany and Mallorca with “safety and hygiene totally guaranteed.”
Ferrer said the plan would get underway following weeks of intense work with authorities, German tour operators, hotels, the complementary offer and airports.
But the Ciutat de s’Arenal residents’ group is not at all happy about the initiative.
“Using residents, worker and visitors to the Playa de Playa like involuntary laboratory guinea pigs without scientific criteria and exposing them to serious risks to their health, at the request of a few businesses, is a demonstration of unacceptable irresponsibility,” stormed group president Biel Barcelo on social media.
“The Playa de Palma can only be offered as a safe destination when health safety in the face of Covid-19 is fully guaranteed, both for residents and visitors”, he insisted.
More than 30,000 people live in the zone, Barcelo pointed out, adding “it is not a theme park owned by the hotel companies.”
The group president argued that “decisions of this importance cannot be taken without the two councils which administer it and which have the responsibility for public safety and cleaning public areas, and which more directly represent the whole of the area’s society.”
He continued, “before carrying out experiments, appropriate measures have to be taken for an effective management of public areas in the face of the reality imposed by the pandemic, and that is something which the businesses cannot offer.”
The Palma Beach chief executive believes the area is ideal for the pilot project however. He said it offers a series of characteristics hard to find elsewhere in Europe as it is close to the city centre and airport, as well as to the region’s main hospitals. Ferrer also made the point that with six kilometres of wide beaches and spacious terraces social distancing should not be a problem.