Ibiza Needs Tourism…..BUT

As predicted by many, including myself, the Balearic Government announced this week that flights would be arriving en masse from Germany over the Easter period. This could change as Germany may go into another national lockdown but the message has been received loud & clear by us all: We will open our borders at the drop of a hat for the tourist dollar no matter what the implications.

All this news comes as Germany reports ‘exponential growth’ in infections whilst Ibiza has managed to substantially bring down its numbers. It hasn’t been easy to do – restaurants, bars and big stores have been closed for several weeks only reopening in the last few days. Movement has been restricted, Ibiza has done what it’s been told (kind of), most have played by the rules and we are coming out on top.

The method behind the madness of potentially letting in thousands of tourists from a country with more contagions than your own is very simple…MONEY. The vast majority in the Balearic archipelago earn their income from tourism. The Balearics and especially the 3 smaller islands are 1 trick ponies, we have very little else. The only ones who don’t rely on tourism are the migrants who retired and relocated or those who earn their coin in the cyber-world or off island whilst enjoying the lifestyle that 300 days of sunshine per year affords you.

If someone says, ‘close the borders until it’s all over’ or ‘forget about tourism’ then I can 100% guarantee that they don’t need this industry to feed their family or put shoes on their children’s feet. It’s a fantastic position to be in and these are the lucky ones but most of us in Ibiza and the Balearics desperately need the cash flow and income that tourism brings especially as the Spanish government has been woefully inadequate in stepping up and helping out with a convoluted system that promises little and delivers even less. Every day there is talk of financial assistance but scratch away at the surface and the process is so difficult and arbitrary that few know how to or have the will to apply.

The bottom line is that the Balearics desperately needs tourism but luckily it can still afford to be selective and this is where the decision to resume tourism at Easter becomes even more bizarre. Easter lasts for 10 days but many will travel for a week or less.

Faced with a long summer ahead of us including the 3 main months of mid June to Mid September, where the overwhelming profit is earned, are we really going to take a risk for a handful of days at the start of April where only a select few will benefit? Have we really worked this hard up until now to let down our guard just for a few days? Wouldn’t it be better to stay closed for a short time longer so infections can lower further and more vaccines can be administered?

Those arriving, national and international, will need a negative PCR certificate to enter and also fill out the usual online forms but as we saw at Christmas, when the same provisions were in place, this isn’t a failsafe system. We need tourism, we live off tourism but we also need to be sensible with a clear and concise plan that allows for all eventualities.

Like the flu this virus isn’t going to disappear so we need to learn to live with it and some calculated risks may have to be taken along the way but only when the rewards outweigh these risks. Easter, in my humble opinion, is too much too soon.

Will Ibiza 2021 Happen?

The BIG Question

Will Ibiza 2021 Happen? This is the question I’m asked more than any other. The desperation for a holiday is growing and many are starting to plan for the summer, looking for any morsel of information with the hope that life can return to something resembling normal.

As many industry leaders have alluded to, Spain simply can’t afford to keep its doors closed for another summer, the economic fallout would be devastating for a country already on its knees (but doing a good job of concealing it). The debate about opening up at Easter has shown that the issue is front and centre. It went from ‘never’ to ‘possibly’ to ‘probably’ in the space of a few days. The pressure is already mounting for Spain and especially the islands to open sooner rather than later.

Ibiza summer 2021, in my opinion, will definitely happen but many factors will dictate who can get here and what they can do once they are here. Separate countries have their own agendas so mixed messages are constant about who can travel and when that can start although there does appear to be a collective will to get on with things but only when it is safe to do so.

The key issue is the vaccination program which is running at differing paces all over the world but this will level out over the coming weeks and months as more vaccine availability comes to the market, it won’t be long until we are buying it in petrol stations and newsagents.

Cyprus has already stated that they will welcome the ‘jabbed’ with open arms but they will also continue to accept PCR certificates on arrival and I think this will become the short term standard, this summer will be all about ‘proof’, being able to prove that you have had a vaccination or that you have had a negative test within 72 hours of travel.

It’s logical that a ‘vaccination passport’ will follow in time but as some countries are ahead of the curve while others are lagging behind this summer will be about creating an acceptable framework for arrivals while trying not exclude anyone who can prove they’re healthy but also retaining integrity and control. It will be a fine balance.

Balearic airports may also continue to offer test on arrival but it remains to be seen if this is viable for mass tourism but as techniques become speedier and more simplified it could be a short term solution. The bottom line is that tourist destinations need to protect themselves by offering a safe destination and those that do will ultimately be the market leaders in 2021 so the the stakes are very high.

Getting here is only half of the story because every destination needs to offer its tourists something to do. The turquoise blue sea, beautiful beaches and amazing climate are always going to be here but what about the restaurants, bars and clubs? As we saw in 2020 there’s no shortage of Ibiza entrepreneurs ready and able to tinker with their product to cater for the ever changing nature of post-pandemic travel.

2021, I think, will continue in the same vein as last summer where large gatherings in one place without social distancing were a definite no-no. Beach clubs adapted by going full chill out and restaurants and bars used terraces and outdoor space to the maximum while keeping tables apart. Unless there’s a major shift in a short time the large clubs will either have to adapt their environments or wait for the green light which could come as soon as mid to late summer but only if the data is positive and that’s a big ‘if’.

I’m expecting a quiet start to the summer but gaining in strength throughout the season with the realistic prospect that by mid to late summer the White Isle might be back to something like we all remember (it could be the busiest October we’ve ever seen). There will be twists and turns along the way but Ibiza 2021 is moving in the right direction, the outlook is positive.