They say that there’s no such thing as bad publicity but news that a new strain of ‘Super Gonorrhoea’ can be traced back to Ibiza probably isn’t the best advertising for the island.
A study published in the magazine Eurosurveillance places Ibiza as the link between the strain Neisseria gonorrhoeae FC428 and the infection of 2 men and 2 women, all from the UK.
The first case was registered at a UK sexual health clinic in October 2018 when a woman complained of urinary problems. The patient admitted having had unprotected sexual intercourse with a man, also a resident of the United Kingdom, two months earlier while on vacation in Ibiza (August madness as usual).
The scientific study emphasizes that the probable transmission of this disease has occurred on the island means that “there is a risk of undetected transmission.” Subsequently the UK government has issued an international alert.
Strain FC428 was isolated for the first time in January 2015 in Japan and appeared two years later in Australia, Canada, Denmark and France but the trail was lost in 2018 in Ireland.
The good news for Ibiza residents is that, despite the headlines, local hospitals haven’t reported any case of multidrug-resistant gonorrhoea in recent months so looks like the tourists brought the disease with them but more importantly took it away with them too. Ibiza, for once, is just an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire (if you pardon the expression).
Vehicles of 4 wheels or more will be prohibited from arriving or departing at San Antonio Port for the next 2 years under a new ruling brought in by the Balearic Government and pushed through by the local ruling coalition.
In direct response the ferry companies have not included San Antonio in any schedules for this coming summer which means that the ferry terminal will more than likely stay closed for the foreseeable future.
Although many local businesses were against the move Mayor Josep Tur ‘Cires’ has finally got his wish arguing that San Antonio is a tourist town and shouldn’t receive vehicles and especially heavy goods lorries through the town on a daily basis in the summer.
The Mayor cited damage to the port, a collapse of traffic, water pollution and an increase in dangerous waves as his main reasons for the move. “The intention is for the port to stay this way indefinitely. We call it a port, but in reality it is the tourist bay of San Antonio and we have to recover its tourist, recreational and fishing use” said the Mayor.
Regarding the question of whether a majority of the town agrees with this temporary closure, Cires limited himself to saying that “there are always different opinions and we will see (in the next 2 years) the advantages and disadvantages”.
The Mayor also made clear that his position as President of San Antonio Yacht Club has nothing to do with the decision to close the port to vehicles. “Es Nàutic is a non-profit organization where all the directors collaborate without earning anything. We have a concession that is perfectly defined and that has nothing to do with the management of the port”
Marcos Serra, PP Mayoral candidate for San Antonio responded that the decision taken by the Socialists contrasts with the proposal of his own party which wants the local public to decide the fate of the port. “We want the residents of San Antonio to be the ones who decide, what the present government has done with underhand treachery is close the port to traffic and goods vehicles without any consultation or consensus from the town” said Serra.
The month of May is always an exciting time in Ibiza. Energy levels are high as the gossip ends and the opening parties commence. The weather is usually very good plus flights and accommodation are competitively priced. Here’s 5 reasons (if you needed them) why coming to Ibiza in May is always a good idea.
Friday 10 May – Cafe Mambo Opening Party. Put this in your diary as it’s always a special night on the sunset strip when Mambo opens its doors for the summer season. Sunset tunes by Jason Bye followed by surprise guests and a feel-good party. It doesn’t get any more Ibiza than this.
Saturday 11 May – Amnesia Opening Party. Yes you read that right, Amnesia opens on the ELEVENTH OF MAY this year. The home of Balearic house states it’s intentions with an early opening party featuring Luciano, the Martinez Brothers and Adam Beyer. Doors open from 8pm!
Friday 17 May – O Beach/Ibiza Rocks Hotel/Defected at Eden Opening Parties. The newly monikered O Beach might have a new name but you can expect the same crazy party atmosphere in the sunshine at their famous opening extravaganza. Ibiza Rocks Hotel embarks on yet another fun filled summer with their variety of headline artists with Craig David leading the way. For the hardcore it’s a quick shower and change and then on to San An’s biggest clubbing night as Defected kick off their weekly residency at Eden but this time taking over Fridays. What a day for San Antonio!!
Saturday 18 May – Ushuaïa and Hï Opening Parties. These 2 heavyweights have joined forces for the opening party of all opening parties. Ushuaïa will kick off from midday for some daytime fun in the sun then Hï (newly voted the worlds best club) will take over at midnight with both venues promising massive headliners in world class surroundings. A 24 hour mega-party to kick off the summer in style (and it’s a week earlier than usual)!
Friday 24 May – IMS Dalt Vila Party. This iconic party returns to the most iconic of all venues on the white isle, underneath the cathedral in Ibiza’s Old Town, a UNESCO world heritage site. With a mixture of up and coming artists and industry heavyweights this is always a fantastic night under the stars and it gets better every year.
Don’t delay, get your flights booked and see you in May on the worlds best Island.
Good news for home owners on the White Isle but bad news for those desperate to get on the ladder. A new report by urbanData Analytics (uDA) reveals that property prices in Ibiza are now 3 times higher than the national average and almost double than the rest of the Balearic Islands.
The study, based on properties registered in the last quarter of 2018, revealed that the average price in Ibiza was 4616 EUR per square metre compared to 2683 EUR for the Balearic Islands and 1679 EUR for the whole of Spain.
The municipality of Ibiza Town has the highest price of 5218 EUR per square metre followed by Sant Joan with 5058 EUR and Santa Eulalia at 4515 EUR. Sant Josep’s average is 4399 EUR and San Antonio’s is 3892 EUR per square metre.
In Mallorca, the municipality of Calvia has the highest value at 3462 EUR per square metre followed by Andratx at 3351 EUR. The average price of Palma is estimated at 2596 EUR per square metre.
The statistics highlight that the housing problem in Ibiza is much more serious than in the rest of the Balearic Islands.
The uDA report also shows the increase in Balearic house prices in 2018 when comparing first quarter to last quarter. Palma grew by 7.7%, Calvia by 6.1% and Ibiza by a massive 16.7%.
The analysis also revealed the big difference to owning your own home depending on the municipality in which you choose to live. For example, to own a residence in Calvià it will cost you 13.6 years of average gross household income, this decreases to 8.9 years for Palma, 6.1 years in Manacor and 4.7 in Inca. The Balearic average is 10.9 years of gross income but in Ibiza this increases to 15 years.
For 2019 the Balearics is expected to grow another 10% in value whereas the national average is forecast to be 3.7%
The rising house prices in some Balearic municipalities also means the product is less attractive as an investment as it is increasingly difficult to obtain a significant return if it goes to the rental market. Interestingly for rentals the report states that for Inca in Mallorca you can expect a 6.1% annual return yet in Ibiza this drops to only 3.9%.
This forecast, however, is not shared by everyone including the representatives of the real estate sector in the islands. Luis Martin, The president of the association of promoters argues that “customers are fed up” with the prices of the archipelago which is causing a decline in demand. The president of the real estate agents’ association, José María Mir, also considers that rental prices are peaking.
Martin expects that the price of housing in sales will grow, at best, by around 5%, while Mir predicts that rents will stand still or rise by 2% at best.
I’m back on the White Isle after another fantastic ski week in Switzerland. Last year it was the German speaking Zermatt so this time 5 friends and I decided to sample Verbier on the French side. What’s always interesting when I’m visiting new places is to see how they react to tourism, how they treat tourists and how tourism interacts with their way of life. Ultimately I then compare it back to Ibiza where the resident/tourist conundrum has been a fraught relationship lately.
Every destination has its pro’s and con’s and Switzerland is one of those calm places where everything works. Trains run on time, hot water comes out of the hot tap and nobody seems overly phased by anything (which isn’t surprising with a minimum wage of around 3000 EUR per month). It’s a mature destination comfortable in its own skin that understands it’s role in the tourism deal. They provide a good, professional service and in return the customer pays a premium, it’s not cheap but it’s not obscenely expensive either, although there is that option for the wealthy and the blingtastic wannabes.
What’s interesting about Verbier is that many tourists stay in private rental apartments (a concept that is outlawed in the Balearics), there’s a smattering of hotels such as the luxurious W Hotel but most people that I spoke to were staying, like us, in a private apartment either through an agent or a website such as airbnb or booking.com. We paid £2500 for 1 week, so for 6 of us it was a little over £400 per person, a very reasonable price for one of Europe’s premier ski resorts. The quality was OK and it ticked all the boxes without being luxury, you get what you pay for at the end of the day.
The resort town of Verbier itself is charming, the lift system is good linking the 4 valleys, skiing is as challenging as you want it to be with a good selection of runs and amazing vistas. I would strongly recommend taking the cable car up to the top of Mont Fort, where at 3330m above sea level you get the sensational alpine view of the iconic Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, a worthwhile selfie if ever there was one. Skiing back down the steep, bumpy black afterwards is not for the faint hearted so you may decide to go back the way you came. The mountain restaurants we tried (Dahu, Chez Dany, Namaste) were excellent without being mind-blowing (Chez Vrony in Zermatt will take some beating).
The ‘Après’ in Le Rouge, T-Bar and Farinet was fun if a little subdued compared to other resorts (St Anton, Saalbach) with a surprising amount of Brits (including the usual Tarquins and Henriettas using Daddy’s credit card) mingling in with the locals and seasonnaires. The overriding atmosphere was of a comfortable, laid back resort with nice people enjoying a well earned break.
So how do other destinations such as Switzerland reconcile themselves with tourism yet Ibiza and Mallorca seem to struggle? I omit the other Balearic Islands on purpose, in fact Formentera and Switzerland could be twins in opposites seasons and Menorca doesn’t seem to worry too much either way.
What Switzerland and other destinations seem to have that the Balearics doesn’t is an acceptance that tourism brings compromise yet they set clear rules so lives aren’t ruined and everyone is expected to follow the law. They aren’t selling their soul, they are embracing the concept and running with it.
Ibiza and Mallorca have shown over the last couple of years that there is an unresolved, perpetual, internal battle with tourism. We want the money and prosperity that it brings but we aren’t able to cope with the complications that inevitable come with it, even if it’s only for half of the year. Some residents, fueled by social media, aren’t prepared to compromise even when most local employment revolves around tourism. We want only a certain ‘type’ of tourism even if we don’t have the infrastructure to support it. Lamentably tourism now seems to be the fall guy for some Spanish resorts that wouldn’t exist without it.
There’s no magic formula though, I’m sure the Swiss are attracted to Ibiza because it’s nothing like their country and vice versa. Switzerland excels in relaxation and wellness whereas Ibiza leads the world in pure hedonism but the Balearics can learn a lot from places like Switzerland. Both are steeped in natural beauty and attract a cosmopolitan crowd with spending power but mismanagement at the highest level means that as beautiful as our Islands are, we are still not reaching the heights that we truly deserve.
“A week is a long time in politics“ – this phrase is attributed to former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Due tothefast changing pace ofthe politicallandscape,thefortunes ofa politicianorpoliticalgroup can change drastically just inthecourse ofasingleweek and this is very true when you look at the goings on at San Antonio town hall over the last 7 days.
For those who find Ibiza local politics confusing or unintelligible let me try and break it down in a simple and (hopefully) balanced way.
First let’s start with Aida Alcaraz from the socialist PSOE party who is the current councillor for town security, responsible for police and trying to tackle crime on the streets of San Antonio.
Upon assuming office in June 2015 Sra Alcaraz installed Angeles Gallardo as ‘head of security’ at the local police force to try and shake things up. Sra Gallardo took over the day to day running of the local police, using the police chiefs office to do so. Javier Verdugo, the chief of police then accused Sra Alcaraz of undermining him and took her to court claiming workplace harassment saying he was frozen out of important meetings and wasn’t invited to special events.
Sr Verdugo won the subsequent court case and now Aida Alcaraz has personally been charged with the crime under employment law with prosecutors seeking a year in prison, although even if she was found guilty she wouldn’t serve any time under Spain’s complicated legal system.
The current PSOE code of ethics states that if a councillor is charged with a crime then they must resign immediately and fight to clear their name. Aida Alcaraz has refused to resign and has been strongly supported by her coalition council colleagues and her political party at Balearic level who argue that the resignation rule refers to corruption whereas this case is a straightforward power struggle between a police chief stuck in his ways and a councillor wanting to shake things up to achieve results. The court case continues and Sra Alcaraz has stated that she will not run for council in the next elections.
Now let’s turn to Cristiana Ribas who was elected as a councillor representing the ‘Propesta per las Illes’ (PI) party.
Spanish municipal elections use a proportional representational model, the electorate vote for a specific party who put forward a list of names, 21 names in the case of San Antonio. The votes are counted and then if you have enough votes you assume a seat on the council.
In 2015 (in which I ran as PP councillor) the right wing PP won 8 seats, the socialist PSOE won 6 seats and the left wing Reinicia party surprised a lot of people and won 4 seats. In San Antonio you require a majority of 11 seats to assume control of the council.
The centre right PI party won 3 seats in 2015 thus becoming the power broker and it was down to them to decide which coalition would run San Antonio town hall for the next 4 years. Their historic animosity with the PP party saw them choose to join forces with PSOE/Reinicia forming San Antonio’s first ever 3-way coalition government.
Last week the hard-working Cristina Ribas announced that after a lot of soul-searching she had decided to leave the PI party and become an independent councillor staying within the government team to complete the full term but because she was voted for as a PI party candidate this has caused a dilemma. The San Antonio coalition was a signed pact based on 13 unified councillors from 3 different unified parties.
The PI party has now given the Mayor until the end of January to resolve the impasse saying that as Sra Ribas isn’t a member of the party that was voted into office then she should resign so they can install another one of their members on to the council.
San Antonio Mayor Jose Tur Cires has hit back in the press saying “he doesn’t respond well to threats” and it doesn’t make sense to install a new councillor with only 4 months to go before elections.
Adding fuel to the fire is the pact that exists between all parties (which is delightfully called ‘anti-transfuguismo’) not allowing council members to join other parties whilst sitting on the council. Ribas insists that she will remain independent although it has been reported that she has been offered a place on the PSOE list for the May elections.
There are no winners in this story but it’s a good snapshot of what’s been happening over the last week and today’s monthly council meeting promises to be a tasty affair with the opposition poised to jump on all the negative headlines.