Spain's Balearic Islands will from Tuesday penalise landlords for illegally renting apartments to tourists with fines of up to 40,000 euros ($47,228) amid an increasing backlash against the effects of mass tourism across the country. As Sonia Legg reports, the move is an escalation in efforts to crack down on home-sharing sites such as Airbnb by city councils or local authorities in Spain.
It's attractions are obvious and it's been one of Europe's most popular holiday destinations for decades. But Spain's tourist sector is being attacked from the inside. Protests against mass tourism and its effects have been held in Barcelona. And now the authorities in the Balearic islands are moving in on landlords. Anyone without a license to rent out their property will face a fine of up to 40,000 euros. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) MINISTER OF TOURISM OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE BALEARIC ISLAND, BIEL BARCELO, SAYING: "Citizens are increasingly critical of the nuisance that excessive mass tourism can generate and we share that criticism in the government. We are working to achieve sustainability and balance." The popularity of home-sharing sites like Airbnb and Homeaway has fuelled the anger. It's meant there's less affordable property for locals in places like Palma, Mallorca's biggest city. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) LOCAL RESIDENT, MARIA LUISA, SAYING: "I don't know where I will go after September. I can't find anything I can afford because I don't earn enough. Tourism is good, as it generates money and work, but it's not acceptable that locals can't afford rents." Renting property without a licence was banned in Mallorca in 2012 but enforcement was largely non-existent. This time a website has been set up so locals can report suspect flats. There's also a possible fine of 400,000 euros for any company using an unlicensed property, even though the Prime Minister has big concerns. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) SPANISH PRIME MINISTER MARIANO RAJOY SAYING: "Tourism today employs over 13% of the people who work in Spain, more than 2.5 million Spaniards work in the tourism sector, it's more than 12 percent of our GDP and we have to take care of tourists." Tourists may forgive the odd banner or poster. But last week masked activists in Mallorca scared visitors with flares - that's not the sort of heat most tourists are looking for.