Record Arrivals for Ibiza but Where’s the Money?

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.

Author: Martin Makepeace

Englishman living and working in Ibiza since 1991. Entrepreneur with a passion for villas, boats, sunsets and San Antonio. Read my blogs, listen to my podcasts and catch me on Radio One Mallorca every Tuesday morning.

9 thoughts on “Record Arrivals for Ibiza but Where’s the Money?”

  1. I gave ibiza a miss this year but planning our return next year.
    We’ve stopped at Sal Rossa in PDB since 2008, and on our last visit in 2016 had noticed even that was starting to change. I hope it hasn’t gone too far as we love going there and there were still enough mid price places on the walk to figuerates and ibiza town.
    I have the odd cocktail in the beach clubs, but wouldn’t (couldn’t) want to spend all my holiday in them, PDB still had just enough for me (sissis, walkers etc) where you can have a nice meal and not break the bank.
    I hope there’s still enough there ☺️


  2. Been coming to Ibiza since 96 & I’ve given it a break for the last 2 years.. I miss the place but more than that I miss the old Ibiza , the one I’ll never see again … The VIP table service culture that’s taken over & caters to the selfie generation that need to be seen somewhere fashionable to their ( friends or followers) online just doesn’t appeal to me & it’s driving prices up all over the Island , the article is soot on … We came for the music our love of the island & for the likeminded people we met , today’s ( tourists) are just there to be (seen) & it’s come at a price to those that know or at least used to know ..


  3. Well the thing is, even with the VIP culture the food often is not really at par with what people expect. I went to a few VIP restaurants and the food was meh and not authentic: not fresh, not bio, not local, not to be remembered. Same grub you get at every 5* dump from Dubai to Dallas.

    For kids I don’t expect just fries and fried chicken but healthy options too. It is darn difficult to eat healthy wholesome food in Ibiza.

    None will deliver? I cook myself with organic produce – which I will often bring from my own cultivation at home, sorry- and cook for my kids and the kids of my guests. Lidl has Bio produce, so I buy my stuff there and cook at home. Not always high cuisine but good organic family meals which also the tots enjoy.

    In my Swiss home I go to a plethora if bio and vegan restaurants where the quality of food is perfect. And I buy at the farm where I know the producer and the animal before it’s slaughtered. When I buy fish in Ibiza I know it’s fresh. With the restaurants, not always…

    Bio food in restaurants is quite uncommon in Ibiza. For people who strictly follow a certain diet – and you have increasing amounts of people who are allergic or gluten intolerant – dining out is not an option. The same who want organic food and/or low fat/carb. I love the idea of organic agroturismos with restaurants who serve this kind of authentic pesticide free food with healthy menu options.


  4. @Martin – Well put. I’m an Ibiza newbie myself, I’m a electronic music nerd but also love art & culture and the beautiful nature. 2017 is my third time here, but since my second time in 2015, the price of my hotel (in Figueretas) had jumped up 25%! Auch! 😦 If this keeps up, my Ibiza tradition may be over before it even had the chance to start properly…

    @Mala – Dining out and getting healthy & organic food in Ibiza is indeed possible, but you have to know where to look. You may already know about it, but if not, check out the vegetarian & vegan restaurant listings for Ibiza at, see URL below. (Even some non-veg places offer good vegan options!) Luckily, the island is small enough for reaching most places pretty quickly…


  5. The way people are spending their vacation is changing those days. Dinkies want to do many trips per year, they just don’t have the time to stay somewhere longer than 3 or 4 days but they have the money that allows them to make the best out of this time. Friends at home are following on social media what their friends are doing, so they have to prove that they’ve got the taste and money to find the most stylish and popular places. No time for experiments!
    Some certainly will consider this as bad news. But I say: It’s good news, Ibiza is at the cutting edge of this developement.


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