Text: Camilo José Cela Conde.
When I was younger, I remember people talking about how there wouldn’t be enough trees on the island to hang ourselves if tourism ever failed. These were the boom years, when most of the largest fortunes were amassed, a part from the always exceptional Joan March’s, and all of them were somehow related to the hospitality industry. The business was so large that in the Hotel California of El Terreno, our neighbourhood, every summer they had more clients than beds and would rent rooms from any private houses that were made available to them. I can imagine they weren’t the only ones.
As we all know, the leading magnates of the Majorcan hospitality industry were cautious enough not to put all the eggs in one basket and became this way also kings of the Caribbean. Mass tourism became the main protagonist of this new revolution, which wasn’t industrial but about services. It was as certain as it was eternal; Just as it has never crossed anybody’s mind to count the almond or carob trees, the olive or pine trees, or the fig trees which were useless, they would be introduced to chaos.
Then 2020 arrived, with its unusual, unpredictable and unmanageable Covid-19 pandemic. Being an island, it shouldn’t have been too diffi cult for Mallorca to keep the virus away, but its dependence on tourism rendered the necessary protection measures unviable. The effi ciency and need for quarantines was well known, even in the Middle Ages, however this ancestral remedy deemed useless at the worst imaginable moment.
Should we start counting the trees on the island, to make sure there are enough? This does not seem to be the solution right now. We seem to prefer administrations acting senselessly, and individuals to play Russian roulette and deny the problem continuing to prioritize their social life. But alas! The real crisis for Mallorca isn’t only a sanitary one, but also an economic one; empty airports, planes on the ground, whole sellers and retailers as well as travel agencies without clients, and hotels doing the math to see if closing would generate less loss for them than remaining open. The main question is: how long will our reserves, inexistent for the smaller businesses and huge for the large chains, last? All those I have been able to share my lamentations with, whose business holds relation to tourism, envision the same forecast: a year of crisis might be overcome, two wont. So, with or without a vaccine, things are looking bleak.