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?