The mass and drinking tourism in Mallorca is causing increasing resentment. The island’s authorities are now taking drastic measures. Will things be more civilized at Ballermann in the future?

The previously unimaginable is actually written in black and white in the official gazette of the Balearic Islands: Since Saturday evening, you are no longer allowed to drink alcohol on the streets or on the beach on Mallorca’s wildest party streets. The ban applies to Playa de Palma, which is popular with Germans and has the infamous Ballermann, as well as other party zones on Mallorca and Ibiza. All areas in which so-called drinking tourism had recently triggered more and more anger and protests, despite various measures.

Holidaymakers and locals who are caught with an open beer can in the “wrong” place now face a fine of between 500 and 1,500 euros. The “Decree for Responsible Tourism” affects parts of the municipalities of Palma and Llucmajor on Mallorca as well as the British party stronghold of Magaluf west of the island’s capital Palma. It also applies to Sant Antoni de Portmany in Ibiza.

Will the Ballermann now become the “Cleanman”? The Mallorcan Hotel Association FEHM is confident: “We welcome that improvements have been made to achieve the desired objective: the eradication of uncivilized tourism in the four areas that suffer from its effects,” it said.

The Playa hoteliers’ association AHPP, the gastro association CAEB, the retailers’ association Afedeco and the association of nightclub entrepreneurs Abone also expressed optimism in a joint statement. This will “strengthen the control of excessive tourism on the Playa” and “significantly increase the safety of residents and holidaymakers”.

Meanwhile, many island experts are skeptical and do not believe that the boozy will end overnight. One of the doubters is Patrick Schirmer Sastre, a columnist for the “Mallorca Zeitung”. The intentions are certainly good. But: “You can’t change a mentality, an attitude to life through laws and overpriced prices,” he writes.

“Hecha la ley, hecha la trampa,” they say in Spain. Something like “As soon as there is a law, there are loopholes”. Schirmer Sastre believes that many will act according to this motto. “Every fourth grader who goes on a school trip to the pony farm knows that the best way to pour the “Berentzen Apfelkorn” into a liter bottle of juice spritzer (…).”

The decisive factor will be how intensively the police will monitor compliance with the ban. Beatrice Ciccardini is not exactly optimistic. It is “the same every year”. At the beginning of the season a little more police appeared, but there was no real intervention, complained the landlady of the restaurant “Zur Krone” in an interview with the “Mallorca Zeitung”. The current situation according to the Playa veteran: “The shell players are here again, the masseuses, the stealing whores. Everything is dirty again, everything is covered in vomit, everything is pooped – like always.”

On the first day of the alcohol ban, a group of young German holidaymakers carry two six-packs of water bottles near the beer king. Once with sparkling water, once without. Is this the new normal at Ballermann? Probably not. Although things are quite civilized on Saturday afternoons, there are still enough holidaymakers out and about with beer cans in hand. Apparently particularly popular at the moment: a vodka mixed drink, empty bottles of which are left on the sidewalk every few meters in the party zone.

A young handball player who arrived with his team in club uniform had too much of the mix. He staggers through the streets completely drunk. His buddies have to support him. After a few glasses of water, he salutes everyone passing by and walks away. What is striking: During a short walk on the beach and in the so-called Schinkenstrasse, not a single police officer is in sight.

Criticism came from the opposition in the Balearic Islands. The conservative government, which has been in office for almost a year, has missed the opportunity to effectively combat the excesses through even stricter measures, said former tourism minister Iago Negueruela. He failed to mention that during the term of the old left-wing government, none of the measures brought the hoped-for success.

Meanwhile, everyone agrees on one point: measures were and are necessary. Discontent with mass tourism is growing rapidly not only in Mallorca, but also elsewhere in Spain. A large protest demonstration is scheduled to take place in Palma on May 25th.

It was only on Wednesday that Balearic Prime Minister Marga Prohens declared for the first time that the tourism model had “reached its limits,” while her Tourism Minister Marcial Rodríguez said: “We want to feel visited and not invaded.” In addition to restricting alcohol consumption, the regional government has now decided, among other things, to reduce the islands’ guest bed limit from the previous 430,000 to 412,000.

Until now, conservative politicians have mostly taken the position that one should not anger the hen that lays the golden eggs (i.e. tourism, which is responsible for 45 percent of domestic income). “The end of a taboo,” was the approving headline of the regional newspaper “Última Hora” at the weekend.

Last year, the otherwise excellent season on Mallorca was overshadowed by drinking tourism. Despite a super occupancy rate of 97 percent, the president of the Playa hoteliers Pedro Marín didn’t feel like celebrating. The 47-year-old spoke plainly: In terms of excesses, it was “one of the worst seasons of all time”.

Media and police reports show that Germans are more often at the center of the excesses than average. In the summer of 2023 there were weekly fights. Drunk vacationers stagger around on the street when they are sober and often become aggressive. There were also repeated arguments between bouncers and holidaymakers. The sad highlights were an alleged gang rape last July – four Germans are still in custody as a result – and the murder of a German in October. Marín has been calling for more police presence for a long time. The hoteliers even offered the officials beds. But so far no one has accepted the offer.

As part of the new measures, each of the four affected zones will now receive four million euros annually for the implementation of the decree. The money comes from tourist tax revenue. Terraces of restaurants, hotels and bars are exempt from the ban. Alcohol can still be served on the many party boats. However, from now on they must maintain a nautical mile distance from the affected zones and beaches. In addition, they are no longer allowed to pick up or drop off guests in these zones.

A legislative package was last put together in 2020 to combat the excesses, but it was somewhat lost in the pandemic. At that time, among other things, drinking parties, i.e. drinking alcohol in groups, were banned on the street. The maximum number of people was not defined. It didn’t get any better – on the contrary. Now we hope for more success. The new decree will initially apply until the end of 2027.

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