Ibiza and Formentera boast some of the most crystalline turquoise waters in the Mediterranean, beaches bursting with bohemian soul and laid-back chiringuitos. 

Year after year, Ibiza’s world-class party scene, charming Old Town and tranquil beaches come to life with millions of tourists visiting the island. Ibiza’s little sis’, Formentera, is the apple of the Balearic’s eye, and is especially popular amongst the elite and those who opt for a less-is-more approach to luxury on a secluded paradise island. The quality and transparency of Formentera’s water is due to the largest area of Posidonia seagrass in the Mediterranean Sea covering the seabed. The Posidonia meadows are protected by the Ses Salines Nature Park that extends from Ibiza.

In 2020, the Balearics received 1.72 million foreign tourists, 87% less than in 2019 when around 14 million people visited prior to the pandemic. The number of tourists last year was comparable with that of the late 1960s! From a purely environmental point of view, it’s without a doubt that the reduction in tourism had a positive impact. Dolphins returned to cleaner, clearer waters and there was a 98% reduction in CO2 emissions due to less air traffic, according to the islands Sustainability Observatory.

It’s unlikely that we would have been able to witness these dramatic environmental changes if it wasn’t for the pandemic, and although under unpleasant circumstances, it has been clearly demonstrated what the island should look like if sustainable tourism is enforced. The heart and soul of the Balearics, not to mention the economy, are predominantly linked to their tourists, so it is of great importance that tourism fully recovers, but the emphasis on an environmentally conscious and sustainable form of tourism is greater now than ever before.

‘British tourism is essential for our islands and the UK is our second source market in terms of visitor numbers. The tourism industry accounts for around 35% of our islands’ GDP and it is essential that we bring visitors back, however our ambition is that we do so in a sustainable way, continuing to roll out sustainable initiatives to counteract any negative environmental impacts.’ – Iago Negueruela, Minister of Tourism.

The term ‘ecotourism’ refers to tourism that is centered around awareness of the environment and the local community. Over the past few years the concept of ecotourism has adapted to new demands into what we now know as luxury ecotourism. As well as taking part in the usual outdoor activities such as hiking or cycling through the many nature trails across Ibiza and Formentera, it is now possible for eco-tourists to enjoy luxury experiences such as dining in eco-gastronomy restaurants, staying in villas with sustainable amenities and energy resources, eco-friendly yacht experiences and even completely carbon neutral private jets, like our partners at SHY Aviation.

Formentera is considered to be the capital of ecotourism in the Balearics and leader of the Spanish ‘green movement’. The future vision for Formentera is to become a fully sustainable eco-island that sets an example for the rest of Spain and the world. A number of projects and plans are in place to work towards this end goal, which we see becoming closer and closer year after year. 



2021 marks five years since the sustainable tourism tax was launched in the Balearic Islands and applies to all stays in tourist accommodation. The eco-tax provides revenue to promote sustainable tourism and support important initiatives which counteract the impact of tourism on the islands. 

Over 170 sustainable tourism projects have been initiated to promote ecotourism, protect the environment, and restore cultural heritage sites in the Balearic Islands as a whole.

Formentera.Eco is a project that has been running for a couple of years, the aim is to preserve the island’s natural beauty by reducing harmful emissions and noise caused by the influx of cars and motorcycles during the summer, and focusing on the implementation of electric vehicles. Projects such as these are taking great strides in preserving the beauty of the island for future generations. Currently, vehicles are regulated on the island, and charging ports for electric vehicles have been installed to promote the use of more eco-friendly modes of transport, with the aim to eventually become fully electric. 

The Save Posidonia Project works to protect the 76.5 million square meters of Posidonia meadows in Formentera. This marine plant is a crucial part of the island’s ecosystem where more than 400 species of marine plants and over 1000 species of marine animals live.  Among other actions, the installation of 77 ecological buoys has prevented the boats that visit these coves from being able to anchor in protected areas, to avoid causing damage to the Posidonia. The tourist board is also launching a new app, providing details of permitted anchoring areas (and indicating no-anchorage zones for boating vessels).

Ferry operator, Baleària, have recently taken delivery of their new LNG-fueled Fast Ferry, named Eleonor Roosevelt. The ferry is run completely on natural gas, and will be the world’s longest fast ferry. It boasts a length of 123 meters and a 28-meter width. LNG already allowed Baleària to cut 37,000 tons of CO2 from its operations in 2020. It is estimated that each year Eleanor Roosevelt will reduce carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to eliminating more than 8,900 conventional passenger cars or planting almost 27,000 trees. 

It is so encouraging to see all the positive changes being implemented in Ibiza and Formentera, through these initiatives we can preserve and restore the island’s nature and tourism simultaneously. 

Read more about what ecotourism means to us at Buckingham and Lloyds here, as well as some tips for minimising your carbon footprint whilst travelling.

Published 30th July 2021
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