A clean-up is underway with a raft of new restrictions aimed at curbing drunken tourism.
“First you drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Just in time for the summer season, Palma has put alcohol and behavioural rules into place in the island’s biggest party spots, including Playa de Palma, the Paseo Marítimo, Cala Major, Avenue Joan Miró and the city centre. For some local businesses and hotels, this hasn’t come soon enough, but now the question is, “Will it be enough?”
What’s and Wherefore’s #
Located from Es Molinar in the north down to Ses Cadenes in the south, the vast stretch of beach called Playa de Palma has long been a playground for drunken revellers. Often dubbed the “Magaluf for Germans”, this area’s reputation has gone so far that, like Magaluf a few years back, the city council in conjunction with local police have started a massive campaign to make things better.
This area, along with the others stated above, have been designated as “Special Tourist Interest Zones” (Zonas Especiales de Interes Turistico - ZEIT) for a period of six months starting 1 April through to 30 September. Some of the new bylaws seem like common sense to most people, but clearly were put in place to be able to legally regulate the sale of alcohol, as well as legislating certain anti-social and behavioural problems that have been raging out of control for several years.
Amongst the new regulations are things such as
- banning public drinking on the streets and public beaches,
- limiting the promotion, sale and consumption of alcohol in these areas, which in plain-speak means no more drinking contests, pub crawls, two-for-one drinks specials or happy hours
- disallowing inappropriate attire on the public streets and walkways, specifically geared toward people walking around in nothing but swimwear, has also been put into effect.
Bars that intentionally ignore the new rules can be fined up to €3000, and the same applies for holidaymakers who are deemed public nuisances.
The main goal is for the residents and businesses to take back their neighbourhoods and make them desirable to live and work in again.
How’s that Working Out? #
So far, it seems not much has changed. The bacchanalia is going strong, fuelled by huge groups of tourists coming with the sole purpose of having weekend to week long boozefests. Many of these tourists come in on group packages organised in their home countries, though a certain number are still emanating from the local Mallorcan hotspots themselves.
Policing has been sporadic at best thus far, though they are coming under increasing pressure from the hotelier’s association and locals residing in the areas to step it up. The hoteliers have alerted the police that if they don’t handle the trouble makers, then they will be forced to “take matters into their own hands”… a situation that rarely ends well.
Still, Angelica Pastor, the public safety councillor, assures residents that the police presence will grow commensurate to the growing summer influx. An information campaign was introduced in April to alert those living and working in the red zones of the new rules, and as we head into the busy months, compliance of the new bylaws will be strictly enforced.
Other Implications #
Mallorca tourism, in general, is trying to head in the direction of quality over quantity. The kind of tourist that comes and abuses not just alcohol, but the island itself, is becoming just the sort that local businesses are attempting to replace with a more sophisticated traveller. There has been a lot of talk about focussing on "quality tourism" in recent years. Twelve million visitors came last year, and whilst they generated a huge amount of money for the economy, the downsides are equally apparent.
Water shortages, overcrowded beaches, litter, escalating traffic jams, and air pollution from the thousands of additional cars on the roads every summer have made the island rethink their tourism model.
Affordable Mallorca Tip: If you find yourself in a situation where the party has gotten out of control and you need help, here are a few handy numbers:
- Local Police - 092
- Guardia Civil – 062
- Fire Brigade – 080 (Palma)/ 085 (Rest of island)
- Ambulance – 061
- European Emergency number police/fire/ambulances – 112 (free from any phone, mobile or landline)
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By Stephanie Horsman
18 June, 2019