• Editorial Opinion by Nick Gibbs
  • Photo at DC10, snapper unknown (lost), contact us for credits

On considering the comments of Ibiza’s Director of Tourism, Juan Miguel Costa, few will be surprised at his comment that Ibiza’s clubs will be the last type of tourism business to re-open. Despite the glimmer of dance music industry hope given by initiatives such as the Liverpool rave last weekend, there is nothing coming from Ibiza’s power masters suggesting any prioritisation of the re-opening of the clubbing sector.

In any context it would be seen as the most challenging of business types to re-open safely, but given Ibiza’s public stance over recent years of downplaying its reliance and popularity on the tourism clubbing brings, it would have been astonishing if clubs had found their way to the top of the re-start agenda.

Few connected to Ibiza’s clubbing sector would have expected any different, but even in this context they may have every reason to be concerned not only at the lack of priority but also the lack of any plan or inclusion whatsoever. When questioned by the Diario de Ibiza this week, Ibiza’s tourism boss was, frankly, pretty vague.

"Ibiza's clubs will be last to re-open" says Tourism Minister, but do they deserve better?
"Ibiza's clubs will be last to re-open" says Tourism Minister, but do they deserve better?

Though Costa was politic enough to refuse an outright statement that the clubs would not open in 2021 (the  opinion given in conclusion by the Diario reporter, and shared by many a commentator), he said that he thought any attempt to do so would be ‘very complicated’. Very complicated indeed, but if the Director of Tourism is not willing to take on this very complicated challenge, who is? Surely it is his job description if it is anyone’s, and to simply disregard the sector with deflections such as his in highlighting how lucky Ibiza is to have options for family and cultural holidays, he will have done nothing to assuage the legitimate fears of some that the unspoken agenda is that the pandemic plays into the hands of the anti-club set in Ibiza’s corridors of power.

Ibiza’s clubs have asked for test events and planning along the same lines of those in Liverpool and Berlin. Those in any sector of business so important and influential in building a destination’s success may feel they have a right to expect their representatives to be fighting their corner – not cutting corners of course – but at least be willing to put their positive support in consideration of how that sector can be safely helped back on the road to recovery. They may feel that the Island’s director of tourism would be banging on the door of regional and national government to find ways of aiding their recovery.

It is not just being last on the list, given Costa’s comments and the feel of his interview with the Diario, it feels more to me that the Clubs are not even on the list. 

Put it like this, if you lived in, say, an area with a prominent fishing or mining industry and your MP was asked how or when the fleet could get back to sea, or the shafts re-open to the miners. If that MP answered, dismissively and with a lack of interest, that he didn’t really know, that it sounded quite complicated, but the good news he wanted to announce was that Mabel’s the florists should be back open for business next week, well you’d be pretty shocked right? That is how Ibiza’s Director of Tourism’s comments came over to me this week.

Would a different outlook from Costa and the wider political and economic structure of Ibiza’s government make a difference as to whether the clubs could open in 2021? Personally, I feel it unlikely to happen whatever efforts could be brought to bear, but that doesn’t mean I’m right – who of us can look back over the last year and say we have got much of our prediction and foresight correct.

But my opinion or the reality of change being affected really isn’t the point. Ibiza’s clubbing sector deserves better. For all its problems, for all its dubious financial reporting, for all its perceived nuisance, without it, without Ibiza’s clubbing culture its position on the world stage would be what? Just another Menorca is what.

Ibiza’s clubbing sector has had a hugely greater impact on its own region’s economy and renown than those or Berlin, Liverpool and other centres who are taking positive steps to explore possibilities of safe clubbing as the world re-starts.

Ibiza’s clubs will just have to sit back and watch that happen around them as their favour locally is so low that they will receive nothing more than a dismissive reference as its Tourism Minister steers his audience to the really important issues of having a great Archery club and an active Nordic walking scene. After all, the potential ramifications of lost employment, revenue and reputation etc from the clubbing sector are probably ’quite complicated’.