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Party tourism in Ibiza: “It’s as if Corona never existed”

Party tourism in Ibiza: “It’s as if Corona never existed”

Balearic Islands

Party tourism in Ibiza: “It’s as if Corona never existed”

Party tourism in Ibiza: "It's as if Corona never existed"

The DJs are playing again, and the small Balearic island is happy about party tourists – and at the same time suffers from it.

3,500 people dance tightly together in the “Pacha” nightclub in Ibiza, hands and cell phones stretched upwards. “It’s as if Corona never existed,” says British vacationer Michelle. The megaclubs on the Spanish holiday island remained closed for two years due to the pandemic. They’ve been open again for two months, and the party tourists from all over the world are flocking there in droves.

“Our expectations were exceeded,” says Paloma Tur, spokeswoman for Grupo Pacha, which runs the nightclub with a rooftop terrace and gardens near the marina. “Everything indicates that the number of visitors will be even higher than in 2019.”

“The pandemic was a real disaster for an island like Ibiza, where 84 percent of gross domestic product depends directly on tourism,” says Juan Miguel Costa, tourism officer on the Balearic island. 3000 people work in the clubs in Ibiza. The discos and bars were the last to be allowed to reopen after the end of the Corona measures – at least a month earlier than usual.

“When the first guests finally came back, we breathed a sigh of relief,” says Roberto de Lope, managing director of Ushuaïa Entertainment, which runs numerous bars. There are still many loans that were taken out during the pandemic and now have to be repaid, he says.

Ushuaïa Entertainment also includes the huge Hï Ibiza nightclub, which can accommodate up to 5700 guests, and an open-air disco, which last summer was only open for a few days and to a reduced number of visitors.

DJ Calvin Harris: Entry costs 90 euros

As the sun sinks into the sea, more than 7,000 people dance around the pools to music played by famous DJ Calvin Harris. Admission costs 90 euros, a drink around 20 euros. The party-goers spend enormous sums on the island. However, some locals believe that Ibiza doesn’t need party tourism for its economy.

1.9 million guests visited Ibiza and the small neighboring island of Formentera last year – although the discos were closed. 2021 was an “excellent” year for gastronomy and shops, says Jaume Ribas, spokesman for the citizens’ initiative Prou ​​(Catalan for “enough”). “We want the people of Ibiza to realize that we don’t just live by partying. The opposite is the case: the party is at our expense.”

At Ushuaia nightclub in Ibiza

The initiative has been fighting mass tourism for years, which is driving up real estate prices and polluting the environment. 152,000 people live permanently on Ibiza, in August the island is home to up to 450,000 people. “The problems are even worse this year. Everyone wants to work, even the crooks,” says Ribas, alluding to the drug trade around the parties.

Hen party in Ibiza

The authorities are also aware that the island’s capacities are limited. The administration is taking action against unauthorized accommodation and illegal parties, says the tourism officer.

“We’re a world-famous brand thanks to electronic music,” says tourism officer Costa. “Whereas the season used to start when the clubs opened and end when they closed, that’s no longer the case today,” he assures, referring to the increase in bathers who come for the beaches rather than the clubs.

Sara Borrego, however, is on the island to party. The 32-year-old from Cádiz in southern Spain is dressed all in white and wears a crown on her head. “Bride” is written on it. She dances and dances and doesn’t want to stop. After Borrego had to postpone her wedding by a year due to the pandemic, she is getting married this summer. Before that, she celebrates her hen party with her friends in Ibiza. “No bans, no masks – we are free,” she says, beaming.