All-inclusive alcohol ban limited

W Ibiza (W Hotels Worldwide has planned to open the W Ibiza in the beachfront neighborhood of Santa Eulalia del Río in summer 2019. )

The Balearic Islands have clarified the new rules which will come in this summer to address the issues of over-consumption of alcohol.

The regional government said that the law would “force a real change in the tourism model of those destinations”.

The legislation bans happy hours, pub crawls and two-for-one drink offers, prohibits the sale of alcohol in shops between 9.30pm and 8am and forbids advertising party boats in designated areas. It will apply to San Antonio on Ibiza and El Arenal and Magaluf on Mallorca, after initial concerns that it would cover the whole of the islands.

Under the new regulations, a limit of three drinks at both dinner and lunch can be served to each guest but if guests want to drink any more during the day they will need to pay for it themselves.

Balearic Islands Tourism minister Iago Negueruela said in London last week: “We want British tourists. We don't want this type of tourism. British tourism is essential for our islands. We share with the British government the view that some images of British tourists are embarrassing.

“We want to put a stop to bad behaviour. From April to May this year we will increase the police presence in these areas and the number of inspectors. We will have zero tolerance for tourism excesses.”

ABTA said it “strongly supports initiatives that improve the health and safety of holidaymakers, as well as the welfare of local communities. Some of the measures introduced by the Balearic Islands authorities to limit anti-social behaviour have potential to cause confusion for UK holidaymakers, so we welcome the recent clarification from the authorities, including that the restrictions will only apply to certain limited areas in Mallorca and Ibiza rather than the whole of the Balearics as originally proposed.

“It is important to note that the limits on alcoholic drinks in all-inclusive hotels does not apply to any holidays booked before 23 January 2020, for travel during 2020.  For all-inclusive holidays booked after that date, we recommend that customers check with the agent or operator selling the holiday, as the exemption will still apply if there was an existing contract between the hotel and the tour operator agreed before that date. ABTA will continue to engage with the Balearic Islands Government, ABTA Members and other parties, to encourage clear communication and exchange of information, in order to ensure holidaymakers travelling to hotels in the designated areas enjoy a positive customer experience.”

Tour operators had expressed concerns about the impact on the all-inclusive market. TUI said: “As the leading package holiday operator to destinations including the Balearics, we’re involved in discussions on the proposals to introduce restrictions on all-inclusive holidays in the region.

“We’re open to engaging with the authorities to tackle any issues surrounding alcohol consumption and inappropriate behaviour. We don't, however, accept that all inclusive resorts are part of the problem and the data we have seen doesn’t support that suggestion.”


Insight: It would be fair to say that the British tourist comes in for some grief when it comes to reputation in locations such as Ibiza, when its own tabloids are fond of printing photos of sunburned revellers falling into sunny gutters. The image of Brits Abroad is such that hotels and Airbnbs in many Mediterranean destinations have been known to refuse them a bed at all.

Studies of the next generation of drinkers tell us that alcohol is going the same way as smoking, but the good people of the Balearic Islands rightly aren’t in the mood for generational change and have acted now.

Despite the concerns of TUI, hotels, even those on the all-inclusive model, are unlikely to suffer as part of the move. As we heard at the recent advisory board meeting for MR&H  - now renamed as the Resorts & Residential Hospitality Forum - all-inclusive was already moving away from all-you-can-drink and heading upmarket. Note Marriott International’s purchase of Elegant Hotels last October, where the British tabloids are unlikely to find any drunken fodder amongst the palm trees. All-inclusive is evolving. Having to put your hand in your pocket for that fourth drink will only help to fund it.