Balearic Government consider a ban on holidays that offer alcohol as part of an all-inclusive tariff.

In a move that will put the Balearics further out of step with the rest of the Mediterranean holiday market, the regional government are considering a ban on the all-inclusive tariff type that has become popular in recent decades.

The initiative is being considered as a method of reducing excessive alcohol consumption, with the open bars felt to be responsible for much of the drunken behaviour of tourists.

The idea is that holidays could be offered with all other aspects of all inclusive – so essentially full board, but not the alcohol element. Drinks from the bar would have to be paid separately by the guests according to consumption.

No official announcement has yet been made but director general of tourism for the Balearics Antoni Sansó told the Diario de Mallorca, “We don’t intend to prohibit alcohol because you can’t but we can regulate it. Rather than put limits on consumption or time, we propose that alcohol does not come into the equation but it’s not easy. The Government wants to rely on the same formula used for half-board and full-board packages in which they charge for alcohol separately.”

Government tourism leaders want hotels to look at offering added value in other ways. No specific ideas have been put forward, but they are talking about ‘environmental tourism’, leading some media speculation that cultural trips and activities are to be promoted.

The Government have confirmed they will consult with the individual municipalities.

Though the all-inclusive tariff type holiday has seemingly peaked in popularity and fallen away a little in recent years, it still comprises between 15% and 20% of the Balearic tourist market.

Editorial Comment

I expect a lot of bar and business owners reading this report will have an initial positive reaction to this news. The all-inclusive holidays have been the scourge of the traditional strip businesses for many years. Cala Llonga is a good example, with every hotel in the bay all-inclusive. The local community there have had to work hard to pull people out of the hotel confines, and had good success doing so, but still they get most of their bar business after the midnight curfew in the hotels.

But also think of this. A good many people will not start their holiday search as Ibiza, then looking for available tariff types. They will start with all-inclusive, and then look at available locations – of which Ibiza would no longer be on the list.

As fundamentally flawed as it is, as often ghastly as it is, the all-inclusive model is popular for a reason. It is popular for families in being able to set a reasonable budget for their holidays. And particularly with families including young children it is popular in allowing a holiday where the parents can actually say ‘yes’ and not ‘no’ all day long.

All inclusive surely has its place, and I think that when fully considered people will realise this potential regulation is yet another Balearic Barmy Army move in alienating ourselves from the wider tourist market. We already have the controversial tax, we are heavily regulating entertainment – in some ways to he point of effectively banning it, we are already heavily regulating opening hours and conditions – are we really that much better than everywhere else that we can afford to keep piling on reasons NOT to come?

If this ban is needed, and that is a big if, an alternative could be to limit all inclusive tariffs to family groups. That way the people who need the tariff still come, exposing their children to an early love affair with Ibiza. There would still be the bottom feaders of the parenting world who have no shame in drinking to excess with their children – but those people will do so free bar or not. But for the adult only groups, the bars get them back into their businesses, and we all benefit in not having to witness the pikey progress of drunken tourists tottering down the road clutching their feeble plastic thimbles of hotel bar ‘cocktails’. But the main point is that ‘all inclusive’ would still come up in google/booking/trivago etc searches for Ibiza. Surely no market can afford to exclude 15% or more of its business overnight?

There is also the media aspect. Whatever the rights and wrongs, make no mistake the British media will rip the Balearics to bits for this initiative, even the consideration of the ban is being ridiculed already.

This Balearic Barmy Army concern is perhaps best highlighted by their comment on adding added ‘environmental value’. Picture the scene. Wifey is at the laptop in January browsing for their annual family holiday, he is watching Match of the Day with a beer in his hand (stereotypical I know, but commonplace none the less). They both work and have 3 school age children. They have been going on all-inclusive holidays in the Med for the last 6 years. She turn to him and says, “how about Ibiza, you don’t get any alcohol, but they do take you to see the Roman Viaduct?”. Can you see the look on his face?