- Nick Gibbs
I know a few people who might choke on their breakfast bagel with this one. The Balearic Institute of Statistics show that the number of tourists arriving in Ibiza during June is up on the same time in 2018.
It isn’t a big increase, but the 333,616 of 2018 was topped by an additional 4,500 tourists to make the 338,390 of 2019. An increase nobody expected, and some may find difficult to believe.
Huge British Market
Though unlikely to stop the routine Brit-baiting seen as a sport by a small minority of locals, and a couple of websites, and some political statements, the British Market dominance in the Ibiza tourist industry is as clear as it ever has been.
The British tourist numbers in June 2019 matched those of Spain, Germany, Italy and Holland combined.
Unlike the German market which has taken a sharp downturn in recent years, the British market loyalty to Ibiza has never wavered, well not beyond a slight wobble.
Average Stay Down
Probably the most frequent reason I am given by people wanting to explain a drop in numbers.
The actual drop of the average stay is far smaller than those people tend to think. They tend to talk in terms of people who used to come for two weeks now coming for a few days. Over the entire decade the drop is from 5.9 nights to 4.7. This doesn’t sound much, but taken in the context of the near million British visitors for example, that is 1 million extra beds to fill.
Average stay tends to have a bigger impact on Ibiza’s secondary tourism. For example fashion boutiques or a museum. The longer the holiday, the more likely it is people will find time to devote a day to shopping or exploring. Less days, it is pool, club, pool, and back on the plane.
Occupancy Up & Down
Again a number that will surprise many of those expecting a slump, Ibiza’s hotel occupancy rate has slipped back slightly, but is still very high, and way higher than it has been in the recent past.
Also, despite all our bluster, as can be seen we trail the rest of the Balearics on the occupancy front anyway, with the other islands maintaining a consistently higher percentage – though in yet another counter intuitive twist June 2019 was actually the first june ever that Ibiza has been ahead of the Balearic average.
Don’t Blame The VIP?
Yet again the statistics do not reflect the thought and expectations of many desktop commentators who blame the VIP culture for an Ibiza decline. As has already been seen, the numbers state that there isn’t a drop anyway, but even if there were, there is nothing in the numbers that would lead us to blame it on the luxury market.
All hotel classifications follow the same broad decline in the average stay, 2 star and 4 star follow an almost identical line, but what will come as a surprise to those who feel we are replacing valuable long stay family business with the short break of VIP, is that it is actually 3 and 4 star who maintain the highest average nights per stay, with budget accommodation consistently short.
5 Star Jumpy.
Amazing now to think that it was only in 2010, two years after these statistics started, that Ibiza could claim its first 5 star bed.
Since then, in both occupancy and average stay, 5 star is jumping around all over the place like there is a new coke dealer in town, which being 5 star there probably is. Their numbers are particularly difficult to draw any conclusions, though with an insane 99.8% occupancy level in June 2016 it does make you wonder whether some of Ibiza’s incoming investment since was based on that perfect time. At least we can be sure nobody in Ibiza would purposefully cook the books.
Comment & Summation
It seems somehow fitting that there is considerable disagreement on who first said ‘there are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies, and statistics’. It was Mark Twain who is first recorded as using it, though he attributed it to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. 67% of people believe that account to be true. Possibly. I don’t know, I just made it up. I have no more idea about that statistic than I do this months batch of Ibiza’s Tourism Statistics.
This is not a normal situation. As far as I can recall it is the first time in 5 years I have been publishing these statistics that I have not been able to draw some useful trend information based on the sound reasoning afforded me by it being a chosen area of study, and a lifelong love of all things infographic.
I used the Human Pressure statistics to predict that the island had maxed out on the literal limit of people it could sustain in 2016, and so it proved to be.
I demonstrated why the AENA statistics were unreliable and simply a means of political point scoring in their ever upward trend. Politicians keep quiet about the AENA stats in this new climate.
Overall I think my reporting on the numbers coming out of the Balearic Statistics institute has been pretty good. But the data for June 2019 is just baffling in its lack of consistency. Some numbers up, some numbers down. Some the same, backwards, but so many of them contradictory.
Regular readers may recall that time to time I have mentioned that I cannot help but love the way Ibiza’s Northern-most municipality Sant Joan de Labritja live up to their hippy reputation by simply not bothering to send in quite a lot of statistics, leaving holes throughout the otherwise immaculate institute records. The best way I can think to describe the June 2019 statistics is that somebody has sent a load of forms to Sant Joan town hall and said it was their turn to do them this month, which they had done in their style of we can’t be bothered with all this nonsense.
So, I have given what information I can, and having poured over all the number in detail for some time my considered summation is, I have not got a clue what comes next.
But these are just one set of numbers, and statistics are always better taken aggregated with as many sources and collection methods as possible.
Whatever the numbers do say, these numbers, any numbers, I cannot write anything on Ibiza’s tourism statistics without mentioning that in the course of my travels this year there are far more Ibiza businesses that give me a very negative view of where Ibiza’s tourism sector is at, than those who say business is good.
Some of those talking of a slump would find it difficult to accept any numbers that demonstrate an upward trend, however slight. But one thing does not rule out the other—easier to explain by example. Let’s say Bob’s Bar have been established 10 years. They remember a few years back when their bar was packed every night of the week. Their view is that in the last 3 years there has been a dramatic drop in the numbers of tourists walking past their door. That may all be correct, but it doesn’t automatically mean there are less tourists. It could mean that the type of tourists who are staying in the newly renovated 5 star hotels either side of Bob’s, do not tend to go out into local bars in the same way the tourists staying at their 3 star predecessors did.
Are there less people in Ibiza in 2019 compared to 2018 then compared to 2017? My view is that yes, there are fewer people and many locals not reliant on tourism income would say amen for that, and this reduction is borne out by the Human Pressure numbers. But beyond that, I think it is of far greater consequence to most businesses, not that it is a reducing market, but a changing one.
In the short term it seems inevitable that we are to see the continuation of Ibiza as a luxury brand. But will Ibiza continue to be a desirable destination if it loses its cool factor due to killing off the youth market that most agree have made it what it is today? Will People be prepared to pay the price premium to come here over and above what they would pay in an equivalent hotel in our neighbouring Mallorca?
I remember the day I bought a pair of Alexander McQueen trousers in Barcelona. It was around the Millennium. I was a little tipsy. I paid the equivalent of £900. I knew that the manufacturer of the trousers did not justify £850 more than my normal trousers. And I knew that Alexander McQueen had in all likelihood no involvement whatsoever with the design or manufacture of the trousers. Even without the original young designer who made it cool, the name and association was still cool. And though I have heard people very impassioned about the factor of Ibiza overcharging that will ultimately drive people away, I think we have to accept the reality that for many of the people booking brand Ibiza and staying in what we see as overpriced 5 star, they just don’t care about the money. Some of them will probably view that pricing as a plus point.
I wouldn’t stake my life savings on the outcome of our current mix being one of Ibiza becoming ‘Cannes with a bit of edge’, but I certainly view that as a possibility. Why not?