The vaccines trials are almost over and there’s a growing confidence that summer 2021 will get us back to some form of normality but there’s an interesting local debate rumbling in Ibiza about how tourism should return after the pandemic.
Some are using this crisis to suggest that Ibiza should reset itself and emerge as a more conscientious destination, questioning the need for so many hedonistic options rather than focusing on natural, cultural and gastronomic pursuits.
Some are also putting pressure on the local authorities to regulate ‘beach clubs’ who they say operate on licences that don’t genuinely reflect what’s happening insides their venues.
Pepe Rosello, the owner of Space, has been a high profile critic of beach clubs as he sees them as unfair competition against the highly regulated nightlife sector.
In his latest open letter to the local press Sr Rosello highlighted that in 2005 the Ibiza government forced nightclubs to cover all open areas then in 2008 forced them to close from 6am to 4.30pm. This coincided with the growth of beach clubs who filled the gap for those wanting adult fun in the sun which his club particularly catered for when opening at 6am.
Rosello has also been a constant critic of Ushuaia (which isn’t surprising as this is the company that evicted him from the legendary club that he built over 3 decades) but he does come up with some valid points including that Ushuaia and other hotel venues were allowed to initially pay less VAT than some of their direct competitors (but this has now been amended).
Rosello isn’t the only one having a chip, local journalist Xescu Prats from the Diario de Ibiza has also weighed in with a veiled attack on Ushuaia and other beachfront venues who’s loud music disturbs the wider population.
What is clear is that these and others are using the pandemic to put pressure on the authorities to further regulate the leisure market to make it a more level playing field in a highly complicated and competitive area where venues operate under different forms of licence.
This story will rumble on over winter but it will be interesting to see whether the Ibiza authorities have the desire to challenge the existing order and regulate further especially as they know that devaluing your core product after the biggest crisis tourism has ever faced is a very dangerous game to play but they may also see it an ideal time to strike while the iron is hot. Watch this space.