(Binibeca Vell) Every year, nearly 800,000 tourists parade through the streets of Binibeca Vell, a tiny village on the island of Menorca nestled between a cove and turquoise waters. “It’s too much” for the 200 residents, says Judge Oscar Monge, who would like to see things “cooler.”

Nicknamed the “Spanish Mykonos” for its resemblance to the famous Greek island, the village, lined with flower-decorated white houses, has long been one of the main attractions in the Balearic Islands, a tourist mecca in the Mediterranean.

Although it is a boon for tour operators who highlight the “magical” appearance of the place, born from the imagination of Catalan architect Francisco Barba Corsini, it is also a source of annoyance for some residents, who face problems with “rudeness”.

“Everyone wants to come here and take photos. We’re not against tourism,” says Monge, president of the owners’ association of this private housing estate built in 1972. “We’re not against tourism,” he sighs.

Behind him, there are signs asking visitors to “respect” and “be silent.” “We put them everywhere,” the 50-year-old explains, because “some tourists put their feet on the walls, climb onto the terraces” or “open the doors to see who lives inside.”

“Misfortune”

To reduce the nuisances, the co-owners recently decided to limit access to the alley to 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on August 15, residents are due to vote on a more drastic solution: banning visitors from the property, pure and simple.

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The attack has sparked debate in the village, with María Neira Ramírez, manager of the restaurant El Patio, deciding that “it’s good to have restrictions, but closing the village completely would have a negative impact on business,” and calling for “a little more flexibility.”

It’s a view shared by many tourists. “I understand that it’s a special place for those who live here. But in the end, it’s tourism (…) We like to see beautiful things,” explains Jean-Marie Bassut, 66, from southwestern France.

For Oscar Monge, these statements are legitimate, but the manager of the co-ownership insists that “you can’t hire coaches, coaches, coaches” for tourists who arrive “without any regulations” and wants to raise awareness.

In fact, Vinibec Vel is not the only archipelago affected by overtourism: last year the Balearic Islands welcomed a record 17.8 million foreign and Spanish tourists, and this year attendance is set to increase even more.

At the end of May, the region’s president, Margareta Proès (People’s Party), acknowledged that “the Balearic Islands have reached their limits” and considered it necessary to take into account “the social misfortunes to make tourism compatible with the life of the inhabitants.”

“Not for sale.”

At the end of May, thousands of people demonstrated on the archipelago’s three main islands (Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza) calling for more effective measures against overtourism. Their slogan was “Our islands are not for sale”.

Tensions include noise pollution, road congestion, pollution but above all, rising housing prices in recent years, with many apartments being converted into rental properties for tourists.

In response to the outrage, authorities have announced measures in several towns on the islands of Mallorca and Ibiza, including a ban on the sale of alcohol in shops after 9.30pm and on drinking in the streets (except on bar terraces).

In Palma de Mallorca, city hall is considering banning new tourist rentals and restricting cruise ship arrivals, while Ibiza could see tougher rules on “party boats” – boats used as party venues.

Saying it is seeking a long-term solution, the regional government has appointed a committee of experts charged with drawing up a “road map” for the archipelago, a delicate undertaking in a region where tourism accounts for 45 percent of the country’s trade, but one that many elected officials and residents say is necessary.

“It’s good that tourists come to enjoy our natural paradise,” said Judge Joaquin Quintana, a 51-year-old Menorcan, as he looked out over the calm waters of Binibeca’s cove. “But it’s also important to find a balance.”