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Changing tourism patterns, capital accumulation, and urban water consumption in Mallorca, Spain: a sustainability fix?

This paper presents interdisciplinary research based on in-depth, comparative analysis of water consumption and land use patterns over a range of urban-tourist forms in Mallorca. The changing tourism patterns towards residential and quality tourism are studied, on the basis that capital investment for capital accumulation and increasing gains are its main drivers. Social awareness about overcrowding and resource limitations has moved the regulatory planning framework toward allowing further urban sprawl, based on the alibi of quality tourism. The rhetoric of this framework represents a first sustainability fix, a fix that hides the higher water demand and climate change issues. The socio-metabolic dimension of this process is analyzed in relation to how it has resulted in an uneven socio-spatial urban landscape of water consumption. This urban-tourist landscape is vulnerable to changes in climate, because it is sustained by an excessive use of water. Water supply is a serious constraint which has been resolved through its commodification and supply privatization, which are considered as a second sustainability fix. This tourism development process worsens rather than solves the metabolic rift, resulting in the second contradiction of capital accumulation between the imperative of continual growth and finite natural resources.


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