As Ibiza Airport figures continue to break records month after month many are scratching their heads when trying to equate the numbers.
In 2016 Ibiza airport saw over 7,000,000 passengers arrive or depart and 2017 is set be even bigger, yet many local businesses are reporting their worst year for a long time, so much so that the local press has been running photos of the Sa Penya district in Ibiza Town without a single person on the streets in the afternoon.
Unfortunately for many of these ‘normal’ family run businesses Ibiza has become a polarising destination with the middle market shoved out to make room for ‘dinky’s’. That’s ‘double income no kids’ for those that don’t read the UK press.
The majority of those that come to the White Isle in 2017 are at different ends of the spending spectrum. Firstly you have the aforementioned dinky or singleton weekend warriors who book a premium room or suite in one of the many recently refurbished hotels then proceed to the usual hangouts such as Blue Marlin, Destino, Ushuaia, Hï, Pacha, Mambo, Ocean Beach, Lio, Nikki Beach etc etc.
These people are the “new Ibiza”: 2,3 or 4 nights of pure indulgence, throwing money around like confetti and posting every step on social media so their friends can be part of their vainglorious binge. They only go to a few places because that’s all they’ve got time for and it’s also what they’ve been programmed to do by the same demographic who recommended Ibiza in the first place.
City boys, career girls, weekend offenders who want to lose themselves in a haze of hedonism that Ibiza has been offering for years however now it comes at a cost. Bigging it up on social media like a gangsta rapper with a magnum of Grey Goose or Champagne ain’t cheap these days.
The other end of this scale are those looking to enjoy ibiza without taking out a 2nd mortgage. The dreaded all inclusive is a good option especially for family holidays who want to know exactly what they are spending but there’s also plenty who want to discover Ibiza but have a tight budget so they buy picnics for the beach in the day and eat at fast food establishments by night. The majority of their holiday spending will go on the entrance to a beach club or that world famous super club that they’ve dreamed of dancing at.
For this market a large baguette for lunch on the beach is 3 euros and a couple of slices of pizza for dinner is 4 euros. A delicious 3 course ‘menu del dia’ with wine can be found for less than a tenner and Lidl do cans of beer for 30 cents each so contrary to popular belief you can do Ibiza on the cheap if you want to.
HOWEVER! Right in between these 2 segments is a big gap that’s getting bigger. This gap used to be filled by those families and groups of friends that didn’t want to large it all the time or live on fast food but wanted to have a nice meal that didn’t cost the earth or browse around the shops and buy some souvenirs to take back to remember the island.
Unfortunately most of the hotels that serviced this middle market are now Beach Clubs with yellow towels or exclusive resorts charging eye-watering prices. It’s a cold hard fact that Ibiza has the most expensive hotels in the whole of Spain, more expensive than either the traditional capitals of Madrid and Barcelona. The transformation has been swift: Club Med is now Palladium Resort, Club Don Toni is Hard Rock Hotel and the Hotel Playa den Bossa is now Ushuaia.
You can’t blame the hoteliers for wanting to cash in, they are reacting to the market and maximising their profit. For decades Ibiza hotels were undervalued, forced over a barrel by unscrupulous tour operators who had a monopoly on arrivals, they were nailed down on price year after year. These same tour operators are the ones who are now decrying ibiza as too expensive and not catering for youngsters.
Those corporate men in suits can say all they want but as the airport figures show Ibiza is at the top of its game and has found a new market that isn’t the traditional bucket and spade 7 or 14 night getaway. Well boohoo Mr Thomas Cook, times change but your business model didn’t so don’t bite the hand that once fed you just because you couldn’t keep up.
Ibiza used to be the place where a prince and a pauper could stand in the same room but times change and in the Ibiza of 2017 they are a million miles apart and the only ones who are cashing in are those businesses who positioned themselves to cater for the 2 distinct markets.
So while some Ibiza businesses have a record year others will scratch their collective heads when they read the front page news about all those arrivals on the White Isle. Where did the people go, where did they spend their money? I think we all know the answer to that.