by Elisa Banal-Juaneda 31/07/2015
As a young Majorcan I have always considered tourists as predators, consuming at will our landscape and spaces. My generation suffers from a very nostalgic sense of loss, and though we were not around to see it, the unspoilt Majorcan landscape that disappeared as tourism arrived is imagined as our lost paradise, and a powerful part of our identity. We take refuge in the idea of a Majorca as wild landscape just for the locals. The past is our utopia.
I thought that my subject, 83 years old, would talk about the before and after tourism in terms of a beautiful, pure island, that vanished towards the end of the 1950s. However, though I asked her specifically about the past, she spoke only of tourism, avoiding any mentioning of Majorca pre-1960. Whilst looking through some pictures I found a very old photograph of a beach that was completely unspoilt; it was beautiful. Now this beach is covered with big hotels and tourists. I asked her about that picture and when she saw it she said 'Poverty! Poverty and misery, this is what it is!'. This was something I was not expecting.
I realized then that tourism made this island rich, and that over time the younger generations benefited from the money and the education it provided, using it to care and pay attention to the environment. The romanticism and melancholy relative to our landscape is thus a privilege; a luxury that my generation can afford but the Majorcans of the 60s could not.
This does not mean that I change my mind to support tourism at any price, not at all. However this moment made me see that I needed a new perspective, a more historically sensitive perspective. I needed to understand what meant tourism in the 60s compared to what it means now. The realisation added a new layer of complexity to the reality that I was filming, and changed my research question. Now I am asking myself about state of tourism today, considering what it was like before and in this way acknowledging the changes it has undergone.