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Spain: Mallorca

99 Coastal Destinations Rated: In the Balance

Score: 57

The largest of the beautiful, yet visitor-swamped Balearic Islands "appears to have learned from the development mistakes of the sixties and seventies." The south-coast beach resorts sprawling outwards from Palma, the capital, remain "slightly shabby," but the city itself has undergone some refurbishment. Smart preservation and conservation policies have looked after the rural charm and natural allure of much of the rest of the island.

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"Mallorca is the best and worst of all worlds. Few places offer a better-developed rural tourism sector. Many lovingly restored farmhouses operate as bed and breakfasts, inns, or vacation rentals. Palma is a delight—a smaller, more manageable Barcelona. But the catastrophic scale of so much of the beach-oriented tourism infrastructure is hard to ignore. The island feels stretched beyond carrying capacity in peak season."

"The island has seen improvements to landscaping and urban maintenance and undergone attempts to soften the utilitarian look of some of its resorts. More local character is now evident, but its authenticity is questionable."

"After years investing in sustainable tourism projects, the results seem to be satisfactory."

"Southern, western, and eastern coastlines are heavily modified. Beautiful, unspoiled shoreline stretches across the north. The southern coastal villages have aesthetic appeal, but mass tourism development is encroaching on them."

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