1st week of August and San Antonio is quiet, very quiet. Walking around town there are very few groups of youngsters, nobody is reminiscing about the night before in a loud manner, the atmosphere is almost eerie, this isn’t how it should be in peak season.
There are tourists, the Spanish are here as they always are in August but they stick to the cafes and local restaurants and will be gone in 10 days. A few other nationalities mill around but the most important cog in this previously well oiled tourist machine is missing.
This is the reality since the British government reintroduced a 14 day quarantine for those returning from Spain effectively killing off British tourism overnight. Instead of separating the islands from the mainland (like Germany managed to do with ease) they implemented the regulation across the board for all of Spain including the Balearics and the Canaries. The masses can’t afford to take 2 weeks off work after a holiday. Game over until they change their stance.
Ironically, as the UK hides behind ‘the science’ justifying their actions as trying to protect their population, Ibiza has only 3 cases of Covid in hospital. 2 of those are now negative but are being kept in under observation meaning that the island has just ONE positive case of Covid19 on its hospital wards yet the British Government deem it an unsafe destination. Quite staggering really when you consider what is happening in England.
Whether the UK’s decision has anything to do with Brexit, Gibraltar, keeping the pounds in their own economy or a simple case of mismanagement with a touch of laziness, it doesn’t matter for those on the White Isle who now face an uncertain future and 18 months without employment with minimal help from the Spanish government. It’s a very precarious situation.
If I was a betting man I would wager that the UK will lift the quarantine regulations just as the holiday season is drawing to a close opening up the corridors once again as people are going back to work, a small shred of hope in a murky sea of darkness.
If there’s one positive to come from this sorry affair it’s the stark realisation that Ibiza and especially San Antonio needs British tourism. The much maligned Brits have taken blow after blow over the years (some justified, some not) as a local uprising blamed them for everything that is bad conveniently forgetting that they only ever come over looking to enjoy themselves and spend their hard earned money. Lest they forget now.
Hopefully the penny has dropped, especially in San Antonio, and British tourism will finally get the respect it deserves from the local population. Mass tourism will always bring challenges and San Antonio will be forever fighting a stigma that was born in the 80s and consolidated in the 90s but all you have to do is look around to see that the town is moving in the right direction with new boutique hotels, a more sophisticated offering and an average spend per person that other Mediterranean resorts can only dream of.
The West End area will continue to be a political hot potato and there will always be unscrupulous people on the streets but the San Antonio of 2020 (and 2021) is a million miles away from where it was 10 years ago. The only thing missing right now is the British people who, if it wasn’t obvious before, almost single-handedly, fuel our local economy.
It will always be a love/hate relationship between the local population and tourism but let’s hope that now we have all seen the other side of the coin even the staunchest critics understand the basics of the relationship and are more tolerant of young, excitable British enjoying an island they love and return to year after year.
As we now see with our own eyes, San Antonio and Ibiza isn’t the same without the Brits and all they bring – the good and the not so good, the sneers have turned to tears. As the old saying goes – be careful what you wish for…..you may get it.