Signs have appeared on Spanish beaches giving warnings in English about the dangers of jellyfish, rockfalls and other hazards that do not, in reality, exist. Meanwhile the real warning, perhaps for authorities, is that locals are fed up with perceived overtourism by English-speaking holidaymakers.
On one Mallorcan beach a sign announces “Beware of Dangerous Jellyfish” in English. It shows an official-seeming logo and an icon of a swimmer surrounded by a swarm of medusas. Below the English text however is a smaller piece of text presumably intended for locals to read, clarifying in Spanish that the beach is in fact “open” and that there are “no jellyfish nor ‘guiris’.”
1. Anti-English or anti-tourist?
The use of the term ‘guiris’ is particularly revealing. It’s a pejorative Spanish word to describe undesirable or ‘yobbish’ tourists, particularly English-speaking ones. The Independent reports that another sign in the series “apparently related to a rockfall, points out that there is no landslide but that the danger is due to overcrowding.”
The ‘activist’ group behind the signs, called Manacor Caterva, says the signs are meant to provide a ‘bit of humour’ in order to get across a serious message about “how capitalism uses an economic activity such as tourism, takes it to the extreme and freely dries up the land and extracts the maximum surplus value from the workers.”
But that anti-tourist sentiment of this type has gone this far, and that anti-English remarks are apparently seen as ‘funny’ rather than discriminatory, is something that should cause island authorities, who have already put into place responses to overtourism, some concern.
Of course, other tourists all around the world use English as a ‘lingua franca’ as it’s such a commonly spoken second language. Anti-English therefore does not necessarily refer to the population of England. Still, any English person, or indeed English speaker, or user of online translation services able to interpret the sign, could be forgiven for feeling rather aggrieved at such open animosity.
2. Reliance on tourism
75% of Mallorca’s total economic output is thanks to tourism. German and English holidaymakers make up the large majority of visitors, nearly 50% between them.According to Sky, they will now be greeted by the fake warning signs designed to discourage them from being there, in seven different resorts (Cala Morlanda, Es Calo, Cala Petita, Porto Cristo, Cala Murta, Cala Magraner and Cala Bota).
Images of ‘swarms’ like the medusas and ‘crushing’ like the rockfalls, may be a coincidence, but they are widely recognised to be fascist dog-whistles inviting hatred against certain groups.
While other resorts and destinations around the world and especially in northern Europe, are actively competing for immigrants and holidaymakers to boost their economies and dwindling birthrates, Manacor Caterva seem to want to put English-speaking incomers off and are using violent language in their communications.
In a post on Elon Musk’s social media site now branded “X”, the group announced: “If you want to use the images and print posters you just have to ask us and we will send them to you in good quality. Let’s continue the fight!”