The Balearic Government’s new laws designed to crack down on alcohol excess have made front-page news around the globe and kicked off many debates.
Balearic politicians have decided to target bar crawls, happy hours, “balconing” and party boats in Magaluf and Arenal in Majorca, and the west end of San Antonio in Ibiza.
It’s no secret these areas have a reputation for cheap alcohol coupled with a clientele of mainly young British tourists on a limited holiday budget.
While some will see this as negative press, others will see it as an overdue crackdown. Many resorts around the world will be watching closely to see whether these new laws could be useful in their own tourist hotspots.
The frustrating thing from a local perspective is that while the selling of cheap alcohol is undoubtedly an issue, there are other problems in these areas, such as pickpocketing and prostitution, that are continually ignored.
Ironically, when questioned, local politicians say they are inhibited by existing laws. Double standards? When you live and work in these areas and your teenage kids roam the same streets as tourists at weekends, then you want zero tolerance on the most important issues.
Here in San Antonio, bar crawls haven’t been around for years, but unscrupulous bar owners offer ridiculously cheap drinks deals to passing youngsters that can only result in one outcome – so any new laws against this are welcome in my opinion.
Party boats aren’t a massive issue as most are well controlled after previous unsavoury incidents required them to get their house in order, while anything that deters youngsters from jumping from one balcony to another can only be a good thing.
But what will it really mean after the furore has died down? The reality is that laws are only good if they are implemented with vigour, fairness and stealth, and this is where we have previously come unstuck in the Balearics. It’s worth noting San Antonio already has a shortage of local police officers.
Ultimately, it is local business owners who need to self-police to ensure that not only do they protect the reputation of the resort, but also the welfare of youngsters, many of whom are on their first ever holiday abroad.
Getting the balance right is the biggest challenge and anything that focuses on protecting young tourists while also trying to change the perception of much maligned resorts can only be applauded.
However, the jury is still out as to whether this is a serious initiative or just political rhetoric that won’t be enforced.
Martin Makepeace is managing director of Ibiza Property Shop and has lived on the island since 1991.