Tourism, the bread and butter of Mallorca

The tourist industry is Mallorca’s lifeblood, bringing blessings and challenges for the island, as well as perks and downsides for those who work in it.

How things have changed from back in the early 19th century, when British traveller Sir John Carr complained that Palma’s inns were ‘very few and very bad’. Modern, 21st-century Mallorca abounds with an ever higher quality of hotel, restaurant and café – and they all require the people to match. A great example of a Mallorca group employing a high calibre of staff is Cappuccino, whose baristas, waiters and waitresses take pride in their jobs- usually possessing catalogue-worthy good looks, and exceptionally smart personal presentation.

Just how big is it?

The tourism industry in Mallorca directly employs in the region of 100,000 workers. 2015 data from The Labour Force Survey shows that out of all those who work, 31.1% do so in the tourism sector, high above the national average of 13.5%.This number accounts for those individuals registered with the national insurance system, but in Mallorca, as in so many tourist regions, there are also a great many working off the radar in the so-called ‘black’ economy.

Types of jobs

Of the legal workforce related to tourism, about 44% is engaged in the accommodation sector, 17% in restaurants, 15% in passenger transport, 11% in bars and cafés, and 6% in cultural and recreational activities. There are also about 15,000 self-employed persons in tourism. (figures taken from Mallorca and Tourism: History, Economy and Environment by R.J. Buswell).

The temporary issue

Much of this work is undertaken on temporary, short-term contracts. The often lowly-paid, seasonal nature of hospitality jobs is a huge issue both politically and for the people trying to make a living on the island.

However, it is not all setbacks for the potential hospitality worker! While a position in a hotel, restaurant, spa or suchlike may lack long-term job security, it can give the employee a foothold and a taste of what it’s really like living on Mallorca.

Climbing the ladder

Having a good command of English is a major advantage, as are bucket loads of stamina and energy; double shifts are the norm for many waiting and kitchen staff members. It is worth bearing in mind that a great many of Mallorca’s successful long-term residents started off in key service positions. Seasonal entertainers, nannies, resort representatives and beauticians, for example, often work their way up through ranks to secure permanent roles in large hotel chains, or gain sufficient experience to make it make it on their own, starting their own businesses. Mallorca’s tourist potential is limitless, and the opportunities for those specialising in the field equally so.

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