Balearic Islands: Shortage of seasonal workers in Ibiza and Mallorca, the gold mine of tourism in danger

The paradox is significant: in the Balearic Islands, too much demand kills demand. And for good reason, in Mallorca as in Ibiza, high rents for apartment rentals now makes it impossible to acquire housing for seasonal workers. Result: restaurants and hotels are struggling to recruit and are planning to reduce their opening hours due to lack of staff.

The hotel and restaurant unions denounce this situation, which is deemed unsustainable. “We have perverted the system. Before there were housing areas for workers and tourist areas. Now everything is touristy”, confides to Marianne Lucas Prats, former President of the Ibiza Tourist Promotion Agency. Abusive housing offers, which have multiplied in recent months, are denounced by the citizen collective (“Afectados por los Alquileres”, Struck by rents). Ads are listed such as: 500 euros monthly for a balcony alone, 300 euros for a mattress without a bathroom, 2,100 euros for a small caravan… the luckiest find a small room at 700 euros.

The medical profession also affected

The regional parliament has tried to regulate the market by prohibiting unlicensed seasonal rentals and limiting the places dedicated to tourism in the archipelago to 623,000, but prices continue to soar. The staff assigned by these dizzying rents also concern the medical profession who is hired as reinforcement in the hospitals of the islands while the population triples in the summer. The Can Misses hospital in Ibiza must therefore transform one of its floors into a residence for its employees each summer. “I resign myself to living in the hospital because I haven't been able to find a normal apartment at a reasonable price. I don't want all my salary going into rent." assures the biologist Javier Segura.

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In the restaurants of the port of Ibiza, the small posters seeking staff are multiplying these days. Pablo, who works in a pizzeria, laments not finding any servers available: "Before, in May, I received between 10 to 12 VC per day to work in the summer, today I have two or three per week". Restaurateurs offer more generous conditions such as two days off or attractive salaries, often triple that offered on the peninsula. An Ibiza catering establishment has made headlines by offering a 200 euro bonus to employees who manage to hire someone else. For Vicent Torres, director of the Ibiza School of Tourism, a change of model must be essential: “ If we continue like this, there will be a time when we won't be competitive at all and the island will no longer be attractive. It is time to think about decreasing a little”.

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