Residents v Tourists: San An’s Biggest Battle

San Antonio
Whilst on the school run recently an inebriated tourist fell over in front my car in a fit of giggles. Then later in the same afternoon an almost identical thing happened.  Coincidence? I don’t believe in coincidences.

I couldn’t help sneering at the tourist then instantly regretted my reaction feeling that I’d ‘let the side down’. Tourism is San Antonio’s lifeblood but there in that moment I was wearing my residents cap. I’ve worked in tourism for over 25 years and understand the dynamic so if I felt like this just imagine how some local residents must feel when they see these antics on an almost daily basis.

This is now the biggest challenge for San Antonio, namely getting the balance right between residents needs and tourist requirements to ensure that San Antonio continues to be a busy, vibrant and attractive tourist destination but also a safe and clean place to live. 

Since the change of Mayor in 2015 San Antonio council has mainly sided with residents stating a desire to change the touristic model and putting residents needs above those of tourists. This could be viewed as a high risk strategy as without tourism what do we have? 2016 will be the busiest summer on record for Ibiza but the reality is that Spain is succeeding by default with other destinations off the map however all it takes is one thing to see a seismic shift in fortunes.

Back in the 80s & 90s Ibiza was a very different animal. Very busy in the summer but very quiet in the winter when migrant workers left the Island looking for work. Fast forward to 2016 and Ibiza has doubled in population to 200,000 all year round, there’s a housing ‘crisis’ and an unwillingness to compromise in the summer months that the Island always had before.

To change the touristic model you need the infrastructure and investment and without that you are in effect asking tourists to ‘change’ their ways.  It goes without saying that some San An tourists aren’t the best behaved but with little police presence on the streets it’s not hard to see why.

So now the big challenge for San Antonio is trying to keep everyone ‘happy’ but when you have tourists (young and old), families, kids, residents, businesses, villas, bars, clubs, hotels and schools all living side by side then it’s inevitable that someone is going to have to compromise. The question is: Can we afford for it to be the tourists all the time?

Facebook post from angry resident

Annoying Summer Visitors – The Rulebook

One of the beauties of living on a holiday island is that you can invite friends and family to come and stay. Surprisingly they can never make it out of season so here is self confessed grumpy old man Frank Leavers’ Rulebook for all those annoying summer visitors, especially the ones that ‘can only come to see you’ in the first 2 weeks of August.

Rule 1) You are getting a FREE holiday, if you want a lift to and from the airport, book a flight that arrives/leaves at a reasonable time. 

Rule 2) I am not God, the weather is nothing to do with me. 

Rule 3) If you lay in the sun you will burn; if you don’t wear a bikini top someone will stare at your t*ts, get over it! 

Rule 4) There is no such thing as a self-replenishing fridge – the occasional pack-of-beers, bottle of wine and bag of prawns will be most appreciated. 

Rule 5) I am not a taxi service, if you intend to explore the island great stuff, well done – rent a car, even if it’s only for a day. 

Rule 6) Switch off the bloody air-con in your room when you are not in it; have you seen the electricity dial thingy spin like buggery when the air-con is on? 

Rule 7) NEVER say “what are WE doing today” as you will be physically removed from the premises.

Rule 8) I have never been to a SuperClub in my life and do not intend starting now.

Rule 9) If you insist on having ‘drinks’ at a frontline bar do not, repeat do not, complain to me that you were charged 15 euros for a gin and tonic – I really don’t care. 

Rule 10) If you have enjoyed your holiday and your FREE stay with friends, why not take them out and treat them to dinner? Not a pizza parlour, nor a take-away Chinese joint, but a proper restaurant with linen tablecloths and waiters with long aprons and crisp white shirts; go on, you know you can do it.

Frank Leavers is a journalist, cricket aficionado and all round nice bloke. He can be heard weekdays on Radio One Mallorca. 

Amnesia Investigation

An investigation into the tax affairs of Ibiza super club Amnesia has resulted in the arrests of 4 people including the owner, his son plus their lawyer and accountant. 

The premises near San Rafael was raided on Tuesday morning (5/7/16) by Guardia Civil officers and Spanish tax authorities who spent 17 hours searching the clubs offices, removing dozens of boxes of documents before finally allowing the club to reopen on Tuesday evening and only after Amnesia argued that the investigation didn’t include a suspension of business activities.

Sources close to the investigation have revealed that at least 2 million euros in cash was found after the 7am raid which was shrouded in secrecy and employed agents from Mallorca and Madrid to contain any possible leaks and also included searches of bank deposit boxes, homes in Barcelona and Ibiza and a boat. 

The investigation, supervised by Judge Maria Luisa Bustillo, was initiated following a complaint lodged last October suggesting that’s Amnesia’s owners have evaded the payment of significant amounts of corporate tax and IVA (VAT) for several years. In 2011 Amnesia declared income of 13 million euros with 18000 euros profit. 

Despite the intervention the club has continued to operate as usual issuing a statement later on Tuesday saying “Finally….we can OPEN TODAY”. 

Source: Diario de Ibiza

New Free Car Parking for San Antonio

As the island experiences more traffic congestion than ever before San Antonio Town Hall has been proactive in opening a large new parking area for the town on the Ses Variades waste ground adjacent to the sea and the sunset strip.

They have struck a deal with the owners, the Matutes group, to use the land durning the summer season. It’s accessible via the an entrance/exit opposite the petrol station at Calo des Moro. 

It’s excellent news for drivers especially those wanting to experience the sunset as the car park is less than 2 mins from the bars that make up the world famous sunset strip.

In addition the council has also relaid the car park on Calle Macabich/Calle Madrid next to Cervantes school making the surface more durable and putting in clear space markings to avoid the usual chaotic anything goes parking 

San Antonio’s West End: “The Situation is Unsustainable”

pic: Daniel Espinosa
Pep Colomar, the President of San Antonio’s West End Association has spent half his life working in one the town’s and Ibiza’s most famous and busiest streets, firstly helping with the family business then taking the reins of the popular Bar Colon.

Now 37 years old, he has witnessed the evolution of San Antonio and remembers a different West End: “For years Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians came … it was very different from now.” Colomar is convinced that the return to that type tourism is possible, “it only takes the will of the people and the town hall to enforce the law”.

Here in an interview with Ibiza daily paper El Periodico he gives his views on the summer season so far.

Q: As we come into the peak season, from your experience, how do you think it’s going?

A: The Season is more or less like last year. This year started earlier and we had a pretty good May and June like last year but unfortunately we still have the same problems as every year: PR’s, illegal street sellers, prostitution, crime and theft.

Q: Last year the change of government occurred during the season but I understand that there are things that haven’t changed?

A: This winter, like every year, we talked with the Town Hall to plan the season. The Illegal PR situation had become a problem, each bar and club were allowed to have a specific number of legal PR’s in certain areas but unfortunately the old rules weren’t followed and the news rules have just aggravated the problem.

Q: How come?

A: The old rules weren’t followed and the numbers were exceeded. The Town Hall said it was difficult to distinguish legal PR’s from illegal PR’s (even though the legal ones wore reflective vests) and said it was difficult to enforce the law. On this basis the Town Hall decided to completely ban ‘dynamic publicity’.  We agreed as long as it was enforced. Now can see that it isn’t being enforced and the unfair competition is brutal. Those who fail to comply with the law have grown and become strong and it has been a huge disadvantage for those who do not have people outside their bars trying to attract customers inside.  Many are falling into despair and desperation because no correct measures are taken or being enforced.

Q: What does the Town Hall say?

A: We have talked with them 3 times since May and their consistent answer is that they are acting to enforce the law but they aren’t doing enough. This failure is causing us many difficulties and problems within the West End Association. There are people who are already saying that they can’t follow the law because their neighbours are ignoring it and they are suffering, it’s a very serious problem. They feel helpless because their neighbours have PR’s, loud music, open doors yet are calm because nothing happens, no police and no formal complaints.

Q: The problem lies in the failure to enforce the law?

A: Yes. If you have a law then you must enforce it. The laws have been passed but it is very difficult to monitor compliance if there are no police officers. We need more police in all areas and is absurd to not have enough. If there are no police on the street it is useless to have a law that penalises bars, the Town Hall should prioritise and tackle the most serious problems first. We have asked that if they can’t enforce the law then at least they should allow dynamic publicity again. Last year we hired private security guards but were told they weren’t allowed to do the work of the police so we asked the Town Hall, as an emergency measure, to let them accompany police officers but they said no.

Q: Is it increasingly urgent to change the San Antonio tourism model?

A: Yes, it’s urgent. The process needs to start so we can fix the things that are wrong. That’s not to say I just want nice families to come to San Antonio and nothing else because you can’t change overnight. If there are still these problems of public order, drugs, prostitution, crime then the model cannot change. First you have to fix all that and then the model will change automatically. It’s absurd to go to a trade fair to sell a San Antonio that does not exist. We must fix the problems first and them the model will change.

Q: How do you make the change?

A: The model change should be encouraged by both sides. The Town Hall enforcing the rules and entrepreneurs working differently, offering a higher quality product. The problem is that if the Town Hall doesn’t do enough then there are many bar owners who out of greed or whatever will continue to work illegally because it’s easier and more profitable but this shouldnt be the case. We are complementary offer. For us, if there is a change in the tourism model them it should be relatively simple to adapt to our business. This year there are 4 bars fully reformed in Calle Santa Agnès. But again, the priority is to end the unfair competition. It all starts with the rules. If you make laws then don’t enforce them you create 2 problems.

Q: So the ball is back in the Town Hall’s court?

A: Aida Alcaraz (Councillor for the Interior) tells us that they are making policing arrangements, but the reality is that the same problems are still here. It’s not enough and the situation has got worse. There is good dialogue with the Town Hall but this in itself is not enough, specific actions are required. I understand that we demand a lot but this is because they do little. Always they argue that their hands are tied by the law but as entrepreneurs we must demand certain things as we pay taxes and they have created rules that have not been met and have in fact had a perverse effect. If you create rules and can’t enforce them then that is making the situation worse as well as committing an injustice. They must be realistic about the strength of the local police, they say there are more agents than ever in San Antonio but the reality is that there are clearly insufficient. In addition agents do jobs that aren’t theirs, they are overwhelmed.

Q: Despite all these obstacles, it is possible to change San Antonio?

A: I think so. Everyone in San Antonio wants better and if everyone pushes in the same direction then the model change is possible. We agree with the rules but when you do not know how to enforce the remedy then it becomes worse than the disease. We understand that the police are overwhelmed but employers also also overwhelmed with a sense of desperation that the rules are not being enforced and some people do exactly what they want. They say complaints for non-compliance will be processed faster but nothing has changed. The situation has reached a point that is unsustainable and changing the tourism model is urgent.

Source: El Periodico

Original interview: in Spanish

Chris Brown – Lovely Guy….said no one ever! 

The singer Chris Brown has hit the Ibiza headlines after allegedly leaving the island owing more that 60.000 euros. 

It’s been reported in the local press that Mr Brown and friends rented a luxury pad for a few days on the white isle then proceeded to soil it leaving ‘vomit and urine’ throughout the property as parting ‘gifts’ to the owner. 

The owner has made a formal complaint to police citing 26000 euros in unpaid rent plus 34000 in damages including a wall that Mr Brown and friends allegedly using for throwing knives at. 

Chris Brown has rarely been out of the headlines over the last few years for such things as domestic violence and assault so it makes you wonder what possessed the owner to rent it to him in the first place! 

Source: Diario de Ibiza