History can teach us many things and what has been obvious over the last year is that if we lower our guard too early then we pay more in the long run.
The Ibiza COVID curve is there for all to see. Last August when our defences were low and mainly national tourism was busy, without any safeguards in place, the numbers surged having a major impact on the island and causing summer to come to a screeching halt. Autumn was quiet until the early December holiday along with the extended Christmas break that saw Ibiza go from being the envy of Spain to becoming the most contagious area in the whole country.
There is no mystery to this journey. Open borders brings risk and although we need to have a plan in place, it must be calculated with an underlying strategy.
Like many dedicated tourist destinations, Ibiza is on its knees. Many businesses are on the precipice, counting down the hours until the lifeblood of cash flow can start again but now, more than ever, we need to reopen slowly, focusing on the summer and for this to be a realistic target we must sacrifice any thoughts of opening at Easter.
Now is the time for the Ibiza and Balearic governments to make an early decision and maintain strict border controls until at least after the Easter holiday with a clear vaccination roadmap for residents. It can be the only solution.
Although there are tough decisions to be made, they are necessary for Ibiza to have a chance of any form of economic recovery in 2021. The consequences of an early opening only to then face a further lockdown over the peak summer months are too difficult to contemplate.
‘Lockdown’ number 3 (I think) is here. Social distancing, masks everywhere, shops, bars and restaurants closed… our life really didn’t become easier during the last months. Some may be feeling a bit depressed and no wonder being confronted daily with changing rules, negative news and being constantly told what you cannot do. In times like these it helps to shift the focus so instead of more Covid News, here’s a compilation of things you CAN actually do at the moment.
Yes, our favourite restaurant is closed and we miss going out for dinner with friends but isn’t now the perfect time to tune up your cooking skills? Good food doesn’t mean you have to go out! So give that homemade lasagna a try, discover something new you never cooked before (a delicious vegan recipe), or bake that cake you never had time to do before. The web is full of free recipes. Check social media like Pinterest for inspiration or have a look at Ibiza Cookdown on Facebook started by a group of local foodie residents (Danny Sarah and Paul Reynolds take centre stage) and when the lockdown is over, you will be ready to smash those amazing dinner parties with your friends once again.
Ibiza is blessed with great weather and the island is even more beautiful now when everything is quiet. So put on those boots or trainers and discover new paths, new beaches, new landscapes, new views and parts of the island you’ve only ever heard or read about but never had the time to see with your own eyes. There is more to discover than you can ever imagine, and all it takes is a bit of time and good shoes. For a collection of walks around the island have a look at Walking Ibiza and for inspiration check out Ibiza Xplore on Instagram.
Gyms might be closed for now but that’s no excuse – all you need is a mat and youtube – and your home gym is complete. Check out the free online videos and set yourself a daily routine, whether it’s HIIT, cardio or, if you have never tried it before, now is the perfect time to finally start that yoga class! Just 30 minutes a day could make a big difference. Your body will thank you later. Remember, swimsuit season is around the corner, despite the pandemic.
4. DE-CLUTTER YOUR HOME
We spend most of the time in our homes now anyway, so why not use this time to give our spaces an upgrade. Now is the perfect time to de-clutter, clean, reorganize and maybe even decorate room by room. If you want to see how masters do it: Japanese organisational expert Marie Kondo is a legend. Sista Sorta also offer this service in Ibiza
5. LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Selfcare is THE buzzword during the pandemic. We are even kind of forced to take care of ourselves during this time. Also they say time invested in yourself is never lost, hey? So why not learn or try something new, something you have never done before? Maybe try meditation for a whole week, grow some plants on your balcony or garden, do an online course in a topic that interests you, learn a language online, the list is endless. This is the time do something that you’ve always wanted to do.
Most important of all is to Stay Positive, Do something positive every day (even small steps make a difference) and when the world is back to normal, we will be more ready than ever to make Ibiza one of the greatest places in the world yet again.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been a tough start to the year on the White Isle. Ibiza’s Covid-19 numbers have hit an all time high after the Christmas festivities where common sense was thrown out of the window, we are once again scratching our heads and looking for the way forward.
It’s now February which means that Spring is just around the corner yet it feels like we’ve gone 2 steps forward and 5 steps back. Before Christmas Ibiza’s numbers were the envy of the rest of Spain but now we are the poor relations, hidden away and confined to quarters until further notice. When we hoped to be preparing for a summer season we are still looking for a way out of this almighty mess.
With close to 4000 active cases Ibiza and Formentera is perilously close to tipping point with unprecedented pressure being applied to the health service on a daily basis. The mass screenings across the island have pushed up the numbers and even though the majority of cases are asymptomatic the hospitals are reaching breaking point.
All the while us British ex-pats have to endure the UK news telling us how many Brits are being vaccinated daily. Over the last few months it’s become clear that the vaccine is the only real way out of this situation if we want to get back to some form of normality. It’s Boris Johnson’s ‘get out of jail free card’ and boy is he playing it to it’s full extent.
Nearly 10 million UK people have been jabbed, friends are putting up photos every day of their parents, grandparents or of themselves. Regardless of the total ineptness of what went before even Matt Hancock, one of the most useless politicians of my lifetime, is coming out smelling of roses after it was revealed that he rejected a contract that might have meant losing control of the Oxford vaccine that eventually went to Astra Zeneca. When Halfwit Hancock starts to look good you know we are on weird street.
Now what relevance does the UK vaccine numbers have on us here in Ibiza? Not a lot apart from showing us how it should be done because on the same day the UK was jabbing record amounts of arms it was revealed that Ibiza had vaccinated only 500 people so far on an island of around 150,000 who’s world has been turned upside down more than most due to it’s over-reliance on tourism.
The Spanish are famous for their ‘mañana’ attitude and Ibiza takes this attitude to the extreme but this is one fight we need to face head on and grab the bull by the horns. Unfortunately Francina Armengol, the leader of the Balearic parliament, seems incapable of fighting our corner lurching from 1 crisis to another, issuing soundbites that make no sense and sucking up to her boss in Madrid, Pedro Sanchez, without sticking up for the islands she gets paid very well to represent.
Like most politicians, Sra Armengol had a free pass last year as nobody knew what was happening or how to react however 1 year on and she’s still fumbling around in the dark trying to reassure islanders while flying in to take away liberties, shame she didn’t go hardball 2 weeks before Christmas. Reacting has become her byword earning her the nickname Armageddon as the protesters who took to the streets of Palma over the weekend can testify.
The Balearics continue to be the whipping boys of Spain, happy to roll over and let the Madrid politicians tickle our belly and throw us a small treat from time to time to quell the rabble rousers even though our economy has been decimated more than most.
Ibiza didn’t cover itself in glory during the holiday period but we deserve better than this, even the Falkland Islands, a sheep-farming outpost over 8000 miles away has a better strategy than Ibiza does – one of the worlds most iconic tourist destinations.
We urgently need a structured roll out of the vaccine where everyone is kept in the loop and so we can see some glimmer of light at the end of a dark tunnel. Is that too much to ask? Melia Hotels CEO Gabriel Escarrer has said that we need to have a clear roadmap for vaccines including 24/7 availability with a private and public strategy and he is bang on the money. While we continue to dither we can see summer slipping away right before us.
Rather than soundbites and broken promises it’s time for Sra Armengol to stand up and fight for the islands, breaking with party lines if needed. If Bumbling Boris Johnson can come out of this well then so can she. Every day without a realistic plan is a day wasted, the clock is ticking, a lot of people’s livelihoods depend on it and it’s a matter of life and death in more ways than one.
It’s becoming hard to remember life before this pandemic. Dancing in hot sweaty clubs, hugging & kissing your friends, going to concerts, big thronging crowds.
At the start of 2020 we all had plans, objectives to achieve. It’s fair to say that many of us took life for granted, sailing along doing what was necessary to pay the bills and live our lives how we chose. Then in March everything changed.
All of a sudden it was like living in a horror movie, one of those movies that petrified you as a kid but was fun because it was never going to happen in real life. For us in Ibiza those first few weeks under virtual house arrest was a wake up call like no other, police roaming the streets looking for offenders who were doing nothing more then getting some fresh air, dogs had more rights than children.
While others around the world readjusted to the new normal, Ibiza’s only resource was taken away. Big cities have commerce and other industries but the White Isle is a one trick tourist pony and the stable door was well and truly bolted. All the things we previously took for granted gone in a Chinese heartbeat.
If nothing else it’s made us appreciate things, realise that we had it easy. Plane loads of willing summer tourists unloading every few minutes with pockets full of money, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. ‘Build it and they will come’ but take away your only true currency and there’s not a lot left to feed on.
Incredibly Ibiza had a summer of some sorts but it was very different with new protocols put in place. Many hotels decided to stay closed and by the end of August it was pretty much all over but an 8 week summer was more than we could ever have dreamed in March when we were locked up in our homes.
A short summer means a long winter but as we head into 2021 there’s a strange feeling of dejavú like we are all stuck in a perpetual Groundhog Day. This week Ibiza goes back in to level 3 (which looks suspiciously like level 4) and like many other places contagions are rising again.
It may be a new year but the same problems persist. Ibiza is an island where a minority are unwilling to play by the rules. Big parties at clandestine locations, an airport that is unable to control itself, families and friends continuing to meet up in large numbers behind closed doors, a general unwillingness to compromise on all levels. The list goes on.
The numbers don’t lie and the spike in contagions after the early December long holiday weekend will now be followed by an even bigger spike after Christmas because people are either unwilling to follow the guidelines or are too stupid to understand the potential fallout to their actions. It’s a dangerous game to play when you are reliant on the industry most affected by the ongoing problems.
The one bright spot is that the vaccine has now arrived on the island even though we had to wait 5 long days for it to be given out due to the festive holidays. While other places started immediately and worked round the clock nothing, it seems, gets in the way of an Ibiza Xmas party.
So we have some hard months ahead of us and the Easter restart for tourism looks optimistic but we must remain positive, things are evolving and Ibiza is a fighter. Even though there are some still unwilling to adhere to the rules the majority of the island are sticking to the script, ready and waiting for the resumption of relative normality, whenever that maybe.
After a financially paralyzed year for most of Ibiza’s hospitality and entertainment sector, the Covid vaccine is finally being implemented and the future is starting to look much brighter for the island’s tourist economy. A moment that should be positive and for the main leisure companies of the island to come together to create the most attractive vacation proposal with the aim of safeguarding tourism in 2021.
On the contrary, the ruthless internal battle continues between the opposing political parties and hotel and club owners on what kind of tourism and business are considered acceptable. There is a cure for Covid but there is still a debate and a desire to kill the tourism sector that feeds the economy of Ibiza. The irony of this situation is quite incredible, not to mention that it is enormously detrimental to securing a future.
Pepe Rosello, the founder of the Space nightclub is publicly pushing for the permanent closure of day clubs and beach clubs, as well as trying to deter the under-30 tourist market. I wonder if this reasoning may be really justified as he was the original pioneer of discos. Or is this damaging public tirade more about Roselló’s bitter feud with his former partner and fellow Ibiza leader Abel Matutes of the Palladium Group and Ushuaïa because he didn’t renew his Space nightclub rental?
To put the subject in perspective, back in the 1990s, the owners of big clubs like Space were the kings of the island: they had extreme influence both in terms of power and importance, they controlled the entertainment scene and promoted a large part of the ever-growing tourism economy. Pepe Roselló was one of those kings and nightclubs during the day were a big part of his business. In the 90s the ‘Carry On’ party at Space was the 2nd biggest party at their world-famous club. That changed in 2001 with the start of Carl Cox’s Tuesday night residency. Pepe decided to be both a day club and a night club and this was the beginning of a much more lucrative time for Space.
Later, Pepe worked with promoters to develop what became the hedonistic 22-hour Sunday party “We Love.” In 2007, Roselló had created a monstrous business where the clubbing season began and ended with giant festivals of 15000 people and his nightclub had grown to the point that bringing together 8000 people for each party was the norm. It was a smart move: the terrace outside was closed and the club increased enormously in size. Roselló and his business partner Abel Matutes were indeed a formidable partnership then, but it was Pepe and the Space team that really made the club work and Matutes received a percentage of the profits as owner of the Space building.
Pepe now refers to “lawless leisure”, but in fact he was one of the kings of that golden age. Even later, when nightclubs were forced to enclose, the sound level outside their buildings was well above what is acceptable today and the opening and closing times were largely the ones that club owners wanted them to be. There were laws, but they were largely ignored. Almost all companies violated the laws, but only the truly powerful could do so without fear of retaliation.
Pepe was and is at the top of the tree and few caused problems that he could not solve. But he knew that after hours couldn’t last forever and by 2008 when the local government prevented clubs from opening until 4.30pm, Pepe was generating almost all of his income after that time. The after hours legal parties ended in 2008, the government successfully stopped this trade and Pepe was smart enough not to suffer financially; he was an unbeatable and in many ways irreplaceable force in Ibiza’s entertainment industry. However, the main problem he faced was the same as Pacha icon Ricardo Urgell: the problem of succession.
Matutues owned the Space building and it was during his association with Pepe that he proposed to convert the hotel across the street into a branded Space hotel, but Pepe always refused. Roselló’s ability to adapt and grow his business into the future will go down in Ibiza’s history as unsurpassed. He was the man who had created an outdoor terrace that was the best place to continue the party and then moved on to the evening hours while having the unique skills to drive people to the disco at 8 o´clock, 5 or 6 hours earlier than less skilled competitors. His vision was truly inspired and yet as he got older he naturally chose to slow down, but the entertainment industry around him didn’t.
Pepe now attacks people who previously worked with him, such as José Luis Benítez, current manager of Ocio Ibiza. Benítez works for Matutes today, but in the glory days of Space he was one of Pepe’s most loyal employees. Roselló attacks the lack of legality of these new leisure venues yet all the laws required to police this scene already exist today. Instead of being in the era of “lawless entertainment” we are in the final transition to fully regulated and legal entertainment and this transition requires time and understanding, as well as the application of laws and the redrafting of some that are not of the law.
And in this intriguing story, I appear. A young Irishman co-founder of one of the most important parties that has taken place on the entire island of Ibiza: Manumission and also co-founder of the Ibiza Rocks Group.
In 2009 I invited Abel Matutes Jr. to a live concert in the courtyard of my hotel, Ibiza Rocks, to show him this innovative concept and to negotiate the launch of Mallorca Rocks at a hotel owned by Matutes in Magaluf. Matutes proved to be a very useful partner for me and, with the help of his army of lawyers and technicians, we were able to legalize the Mallorca Rocks Hotel’s open-air concert activity, which became an instant success. He then used the same legal process to obtain the permits for the Ibiza Rocks Hotel and then Matutes legally launched Ushuaïa; A hotel idea inspired by the same model of the Rocks Hotels but instead of live bands they hired world-class DJs and changed the entire panorama of the entertainment industry in Ibiza overnight. While the Matutes empire enjoyed this new success, I was dealt a very bitter blow, which has given me fascinating first-hand insight to not only deal with it, but to push myself to better myself.
At that time I had 3000 beds in the Mallorca Rocks project in Magaluf and after 5 years of continuous growth Matutues turned over the properties to the BCM empire and overnight I lost practically all my Mallorca business. He found another person who invested around 18 million euros in his properties and carried out the roadmap that he had suggested to expand the business. It was a very tough trick and it hurt as I had been the one who had shown the Matutes family the way forward and inspired the idea of Ushuaïa and, as a direct result of my ideas and passion, they had transformed their entire business by increasing its value by hundreds of millions. However, this helped me to come back and improve myself and thus continue working. I also have to say that my business only exists today because Matutes helped me get all the necessary permits and licenses.
Exactly the same thing happened with Pepe at Space, so I really understand him but I also acknowledge that Matutes did nothing wrong other than making smart decisions for his own benefit without empathy for anyone else. He did the same to Pepe as he did to me, but I also fully recognise that without his skills and involvement, my own business would not exist today, because from that setback I had no choice but to recover and grow.
Being upset that Matutes acted as he has done many times before and being commercially astute and uncharitable towards his partner is no reason to launch a hate campaign against everything new on the island that arose out of these post 2011 changes. Matutes gave me exactly the same treatment that he gave Pepe, but next time I would be much smarter.
I admire and respect Pepe Roselló very much and I really feel that he has been fundamental in the evolution of the Ibiza entertainment industry. Pepe and his team were true innovators and he was the owner of the club with which it was easiest for me to do business. I respect him and I like him a lot. With that said, I am convinced that his current schedule is motivated by his bitterness towards Matutes and it is ridiculous and hugely damaging to the islands entertainment industry to try to disguise it as anything else.
Matutes took advantage of the enormous talents of Yann Pissenem and Ushuaia to go from strength to strength. His daytime concept became competition for Space and, while Ushuaïa’s revenues increased, Space’s began to decline. The Matutes team felt they could do a better job exploiting the building themselves and the fact that Hï is now the most successful club on the island is proof that they were right. Space was Pepe’s greatest achievement and at his peak he had something that many believe Hï will never achieve, so it’s easy to understand the anger and sadness over losing something that he had worked so hard to build.
As for my story with Pepe, when I arrived on the island in 1994, some 26 years ago, I was 23 and I launched the Manumission events in Ku (Privilege) and shortly after our ‘Carry On’ after hours parties at the Space day club . Back then, Space only had a daytime party on Sundays and our Manumission after party on Tuesday mornings. Most people left Privilege around eight in the morning for Playa d’en Bossa.
While some ventured into the dark interior of Space, most waited for the terrace to open at 10am to experience what really was a magical party. We all cheered as planes flew overhead. In my opinion, at the time, Space was the best run club in the world. Pepe was tough, controlling the use of illegal substances, but the reality is that people came from being up all night to continue the party.
This is the true story of Pepe Roselló but the truth is being distorted today to adapt to a completely different one to damage Matutes, which is understandable in the sense that he hurt him deeply.
It suggests that these hotels are illegal and yet I have all the permits and licenses to operate my “open air auditorium” at the Ibiza Rocks Hotel. We do not generate noise pollution and there has not been a single moment when Ibiza Rocks Hotel has violated the legal limits of sound in the last 3 years. I don’t think all indoor discos can say the same. Contrary to the claims that hotel establishments like mine only paid 10% VAT between 2013 and 2016, instead of the 21% that nightclubs paid, it is completely false. It is a fact in the public domain that Ibiza Rocks paid VAT at 21%
How can Pepe Rosello be the man to lead this movement against daytime leisure? He was the king of after-hours and tried to open his own Space Hotel in San Antonio to emulate Matutes’s business model. Together we turned Playa d’en Bossa into the biggest after hours the world has ever seen and we dominated the area acoustically, but I wasn’t responsible for Space, Pepe was. How can he now have credibility in trying to stop others who follow in his footsteps and evolve the tourism model by finding new ways of doing things, like we are, all inspired by the fantastic example he set?
Why should we get into a fight based on bitterness, anger and bad blood that is not ours? I simply won’t tolerate it or let my legitimate, hard-earned business suffer from it. Covid has set the world and Ibiza back, and we undoubtedly risk a drop in quality as a result. While the repositioning of the tourism proposal is essential, it is also essential to recognize how much repositioning has already been done. The skill is not about killing the things you don’t like, but about embracing and supporting the things you like. If you don’t have a better idea to replace something you are trying to eliminate, the resulting void invariably results in a reduction in quality and creates the opposite effect as desired.
Today, unlike in the 90s, Ibiza is not just parties and discos, there are other leisure offers that make the island a much more varied place and we must also not lose sight of the fact that beach clubs and hotels with music are not ‘after hours’.
From 20 December a negative PCR test is required to enter the Balearic Islands, not only for International visitors but now also for national travellers from the mainland. Balearic Island residents will also be given the option of undergoing a free antigen test on arrival or spending 10 days in quarantine.
The news was announced by Francina Armengol, president of the Balearic Government, after a virtual meeting with her Canary Islands counterpart, Ángel Víctor Torres, aimed at agreeing on a common health control strategy for both autonomous communities whilst also highlighting that the same geographical conditions that make the islands less competitive are now their biggest asset when it comes to sanitary control.
It’s important to remember that you will still need to have a valid negative PCR test (from max 72 hours before your arrival) if you are travelling from an international airport, the new control protocol establishes 3 different groups of ‘national’ visitors from non-Balearic ports and airports.
The 1st group is for arrivals (non-residents) from Spanish airports with a cumulative incidence of infections greater than 150 per 100,000 inhabitants (currently everywhere except Murcia, Canary Islands and Ceuta), who must present a negative PCR test certificate on arrival if asked, carried out no later than 72 hours before arrival with fines for those who don’t have one.
The 2nd group is for travellers with ‘justified’ reasons such as work, health, judicial duties, exams and other causes of force majeure. In this case it will be enough to present a responsible declaration and to have an antigen test on arrival or agree to undergo quarantine. All of this would be unnecessary if they have of a negative PCR test as above.
The 3rd group is for Balearic residents who will have 3 options. The 1st is to get a free PCR test at origin in one of the 67 health centres arranged by the Balearic Government in the other autonomous communities, this is the recommended option. The other 2 options are to have an antigen test at the port or airport or undergo a 10 day quarantine.
Balearic residents who have spent less than 72 hours outside the Islands (day trippers/weekend traffic) would be exempt from any of these controls plus there is also an exemption for federated sports people who travel due to competition obligations.
It should be noted that children from 0 to 6 years old are exempt as are residents who travel between islands.
The new regulations will come into force on 20 December and will last until at least 10 January 2021 although the government reserves the right to extend if necessary.
The debate over the return of passenger and cargo ferries to the port of San Antonio shows no sign of letting up with the topic splitting the local community while politicians get hot under the collar.
The passenger terminal was closed by the previous San Antonio council in February 2019 for environmental reasons although the closure caused a political stir as the mayor at the time was also the president of Es Nautic yacht club who were seen as the main beneficiary of the decision.
The existing ban on ferries ends in little over 3 weeks, on 31 December, and the current incumbents of San Antonio town hall have indicated that they wish it to reopen the route although it’s a decision that comes from central authorities in Mallorca so for now it’s all about lobbying and arguing the case for and against.
In October the sitting coalition council had a rare split in its ranks when PxE voted with the PSOE/Podemos opposition to try and block the return of passenger/cargo ferries to San Antonio. Yesterday the same 3 political parties held a press conference to reiterate their position, once again citing environmental issues and saying the return of polluting ferries to a picturesque port would fly in the face of the strategic plan for the town.
The ferry companies haven’t done themselves any favours in the past using the beautiful port as a racetrack, speeding in and out like a raging bull knocking everything out the way then unloading its cargo to congest the roads. The footfall is open to debate too so many believe that ferries are of little or no benefit to the town especially when there is a custom made port only 10 miles away in Ibiza town.
Ibiza Town Mayor Rafa Ruiz has also waded into the debate saying he is in favour of a return while Sant Josep’s Mayor has said he is against. It seems everyone has an opinion but not many are aligning.
Others say that a port brings much needed business to the area and is only open 6 months a year so something is better than nothing. Even Mayor Marcos Serra is conflicted on the subject holding public meetings to get a feeling from the town, hoping that a consensual decision can be made by the local population rather than putting his head above the parapet and risking the ire of a substantial block of voters.
The decision from Mallorca will soon be made but the debate rumbles on in the island’s press, in local bars and coffee shops and in many ways has been a welcome distraction but for now San Antonio’s striking glass passenger terminal stands alone and empty, a white elephant, a beacon of the town’s ambition but also a shining example of it’s divisions.
From 23 November all international travellers arriving at Spanish airports and ports from high risk countries must have a negative PCR test certificate to gain entry into the country. This certificate is a prerequisite and is included in the online form that generates a QR code that’s scanned on arrival.
Ibiza doesn’t have any international flights until January so isn’t directly affected by the new regulations but Mallorca has daily flights from countries such as Germany and Switzerland who’s passengers will now have to abide by the new rules
Other countries such as Greece have had the PCR test requirement in place since the summer but Spain in their better wisdom have only brought in the regulation now as the winter is upon us. We can argue about the timing but let’s just say ‘better late than never’.
Although the negative PCR test isn’t an ideal safety net (you could catch the virus on the way to the airport for example) it concentrates the mind and stops people traveling who suspect they have the virus but for reasons only known to themselves are unwilling to give up their holiday.
But there is one big flaw in this new cunning plan. Many countries have a lower infection rate than Spain and national arrivals, such as Madrid and Barcelona, are still allowed to come and go to the Balearic gateways without the need to show any proof of health. Recent history has shown that it is Spanish families and groups of friends who are spreading the infections more than others.
As an Island community the Balearics is in a unique position where it’s able to control it’s borders (Ibiza only has 1 airport and 2 ports) so when will the Balearic government grow a spine, start using common sense and insist that ALL arrivals, no matter if they are national or international, must show a negative test before entry is granted?
A small controversial caveat should be that Balearic Island residents are exempt from the test so that day trips and connectivity to the mainland are an option but national tourists gaining entry from Spanish airports shouldn’t be exempt especially as the numbers in their regions are so high.
Also the Balearics should follow the lead of the Canaries and not just accept the overly expensive PCR test but also the rapid 30 min tests (RDT’s) that are much cheaper and up to 80% precise. No system is infallible but the right noises must be made to deter potential spreaders from entering the islands.
This might mean that in the short term we don’t have the mass tourism that we have been used to over the last 20 years but quality over quantity is better than a 3rd wave due to a lack of courage in policing our own borders in a rigorous and effective way.
The Balearic Government hasn’t covered itself in glory during this pandemic but they now have the chance to be the authors of an economic recovery by taking the tough decisions and leading the way until a tried and tested vaccine is readily available to the masses.
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.
The news has been tough reading for us here in the Balearic Islands over the last few weeks but finally we have had a couple of items of good news.
Firstly, business and government leaders in the Balearics made an announcement that went under the radar. Not only did they say that they are pushing for the Islands to get back to business at the end of March 2021 to prepare for an early easter but they also explained that they will recommend that tourists do a PCR test at origin but if they don’t then a quick test will be given at ports and at airports on arrival.
This is a very significant development as for the first time we are seeing a specific strategy put in place. There will be some logistical details to iron out but the right noises are being made about the need to get the Balearic tourist economy back up and running by working with the virus rather than waiting for a miracle cure which brings me nicely to the next piece of positive news.
A vaccine trial from Pfizer and German company BioNTech has produced very positive results with a 90% success rate. This is only 1 of 11 vaccines currently in the final stages of testing and its early days but is another glint of hope that some form of solution to the global pandemic is not a million miles away. Governments and scientists are urging caution so we shouldn’t celebrate too soon but it’s clearly a step in the right direction.
Many Ibiza residents are already in financial difficulties after the stop-start summer and it’s unimaginable what would happen if we had another one similar so these 2 pieces of news gives us hope that summer 2021 will happen on some level. As we tip toe back it might not be the mass tourism model that we have previously seen but we have to start somewhere and something is better than nothing.
There’s a long way to go but theres’s also 5 months until the start of the summer so plenty of time for these 2 things to solidify and form into definite propositions to regain customer confidence and to get the Balearic economy back into action. It will be a long road to recovery but any significant morsel of positivity is always more than welcome.