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Thomas Cook report that in the last 5 years, 1 in 6 Ibiza bookings have shifted from the under 30 to the 30-39 age bracket.

Their report also shows a 6% increase in Family holidays.

The company report that younger people are turning to Greece and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, where they can get a lot more party for their money. 

Words Nick Gibbs, Photo Robert Szczechowiak (space closing)

The Thomas Cook report is of a shifting pattern in tourism for Ibiza, not necessarily a reduction.

Tony Hopkins, Thomas Cook’s UK product director, talks of hotels having invested wisely and an island changing as its customers tastes change.

Ibiza is changing as its customers’ tastes change. The happy hardcore of the 90s and early 2000s is giving way to chillout beats to suit a growing band of 30-somethings and their young families. It’s always been a cool destination and it’s now getting more exclusive. The hotels on the island have invested wisely in their offer to customers which have kept customers coming back as their tastes and priorities change: Tony Hopkins, Thomas Cook’s UK product director

According to Thomas Cook, the Greek islands Kos and Zante are benefiting the most. Both have doubled their bookings in the under 26 party people demographic since 2009.

The nightlife on offer at places such as Zante’s Laganas Strip is one of several ‘dedicated party areas’ in the Greek islands, that do not operate in the same conflict with local residents as is ever increasing in Ibiza.

Is the party over? Photo Robert Szczechowiak (space closing)

Editorial Comment

If accepting Thomas Cook’s findings, a question to be asked is one of ‘does Ibiza need the young to be cool’? Or is a future view of Ibiza one where the young will think of Ibiza as ‘a Rock n Roll theme camp for our mums and dads, keeps them happy, but definitely not cool’?

The report will certainly give many Islanders cause to feel positive about the future of tourism in Ibiza. A greater proportion of mature and family holidaymakers, and less of the younger party people, is exactly what some – including the official government line – are looking to achieve.

Despite the emphasis being on change, not reduction, the UK press have been quick to seize on the ‘Is the Party Over’ aspect of the report. Those taking in the headlines and not reading the findings will be left with a very negative view of Ibiza’s tourism trend.

Following screenshots from the Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Sky News, all today 4th September

However the report has created quite a backlash too. Some have questioned the report’s relevance, or more to the point Thomas Cook’s relevance, in a world where many have switched to direct booking through portals such as booking.com

Though Cook’s overall market share may have dropped, their report is not based upon any specific numbers, but on the proportion of their business. In that respect the figures are as valid if they hold 50% market share, as 5% as 0.05% – they can still compare trends within whatever number of under 25s do book through them. It has also been suggested that the report is self serving in so far as it directs more business to markets where they can make more profit. I have no idea of any hidden agenda, but it would seem more effective if that were the case to say Ibiza was down overall, which they do not. In fact the report praises the Ibizan tourism sector for going with the flow and gearing themselves up for the more mature audience.

I consider myself somewhere between healthily sceptical and outright cynical in so far as accepting commercial or political news at face value. But I do not see any reason to doubt the report beyond the inherent doubt in all statistics. It may be that a lot of the negative reaction is to the UK press presentation of the report, rather than any underlying failings in the report itself.

And I guess another factor in considering that the report may have some validity is my own gut feel. Does Ibiza feel as ‘young’ as it used to? To me it doesn’t – and i don’t think that is just due to my reflection when shaving. Though there are exceptions, Elrow a great example, it was not so long ago that you wouldn’t be naming one as an example, they were all pretty well packed all of the time. Perhaps we do not notice the gentle shift in the same way we do not notice our children’s growth, but when going to clubs in 2015 with the Mixmag man on the ground for many years Stan Farrow, who had been absent from the island a decade, what we now considered a busy night, he considered dead. ‘Where is everyone?’ his standard reaction for the first few weeks.

To me at least, that finding of an increased age shift does not come as a surprise, and if that is true then it goes back to the question of cool.

I’m personally getting pretty fed up with all this Ibizan apocalypse how stuff. I yearn for a good story about a panda miraculously being discovered living in a hidden cave on Es Vedra, but as annoying as it is, and as misinterpreted as it may have been, I think the Thomas Cook report does raise some interesting questions.

Will the 5 star/VIP that the Ibizan tourism model is ever more reliant upon continue to consider Ibiza to justify its premium price tag if it doesn’t come with that ‘cool’ factor of being Europe’s, some would even say the world’s, party capital?

But if Ibiza give’s up its cool, surrenders the special sexy something that is its reputation as party central, why would you pay more for 5 star here than anywhere else in the Med? Why would you pay more for a Villa? Even for a drink?

However much we old codgers still like to party, banging on about how we love anthems and they don’t make ’em like that anymore (listen to us), we are not the cool in Ibiza.

The cool in Ibiza or anywhere else’s music is, as it always has been and always will be, the under 25s. If Ibiza loses its relevance to the under 25s, and there is much to say it is hell bent on doing so in its pricing and its government stance, it loses its cool. And why would anybody then pay 307€ average price for a 5 star room in Ibiza as opposed 211€ Balearic average*? Magnetic lay-lines?

 

(* official tourism statistics FITUR September 2016)

 

 

 

 

 


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