With continuing and confusing doubts around the U.K. tourist market when Ibiza opens its doors for international business in July, we take a look at who will be coming based on the ratio of visitors in previous years, and the 2020 regulations as we know them.
- Nick Gibbs
With months of the strangest of times behind us, everybody is looking to find their own personal positives in where we are at.
For some people that positive is to focus entirely on health and safety – the balearics have done well in their lockdown outcome so far, and a good number of people want to take things very slowly to ensure that continues to be the case.
However, another body of opinion, based on a combination of reading the health risk differently and also out of economic necessity, want to get the tourist season moving.
Straw Poll – When Should Ibiza Welcome International Tourists?
We took our own straw poll of residents and with just shy of 300 respondents the view of Ibizans as to when international tourism should commence returned some interesting numbers.
Many may be surprised in how few wanted to get things moving as soon as possible. A combined total of just 8% wanted to open our doors before the end of June.
By far the biggest majority, 48%, felt that July was the right time, and given the poll was taken 3 days before the Government’s announcement that tourism would indeed commence in July, we can safely assume that Prime Minister Sanchez uses the Ibiza Winter Residents Group on Facebook as his means of assessing the will of the people.
July 1st Open for Business
So, the announcement of July was received with widespread enthusiasm from those finding their positivity in starting the season. However, that initial flurry of excitement has been tempered in recent days by a succession of conflicting and confusing reasons that July 1st may not be the day our season starts in earnest, certainly as far as the U.K. market is concerned.
First there is the issue of quarantine. The Spanish quarantine will be lifted in time, all indication is that the British quarantine will not. Assuming there are no other barriers (and there may be, we’re coming to that), the quarantine will therefore require one of two things in UK tourists. Either a level of determination to holiday in Ibiza that makes a two week quarantine on their return worth it. Or that they will travel with no intention of following the quarantine on their return. As far as we know there is no electronic app-tagging or other method proposed, and the return to UK quarantine would be entirely self-imposed. There is much media, and personal testimony, coming out of the UK to say that there are plenty of people who do not feel the need to follow the current rules, so why would a self imposed quarantine be treated any differently?
This will worry those who are concerned that we are opening ourselves to tourists too quickly. It is reasonable to conclude that those happy to travel in this first wave, who are likely to disregard the returning quarantine, are those most likely to have ignored the wider regulations in the UK and so carry a proportionately higher risk of being infected.
Spanish Restrictions on UK Market?
This lack of confidence in the effectiveness of the UK’s Covid-19 policy and regulations is felt sufficiently serious by Spanish public authorities that some further obstacles may stand in the way of July 1st as a starting point.
Emphasis on the ‘may’. None of these additional proposals or ideas are certain, despite the way they have been phrased in the U.K. press.
Since the Government announced July 1st we have seen a series of statements and proposals by Spanish Ministers and Ibiza’s own President regarding additional restrictions to be placed upon UK tourists.
These have included ‘proof’ of being free of the virus, tests on entry requiring a short term isolation until results are obtained, and a less defined ‘Britain must do better’ requirement.
If any of these bars are enforced it could stop UK tourists regardless of whether they would be prepared for the UK returning quarantine. But perhaps just as important, the wide circulation of these proposals, and often as if they are already in force by UK tabloid media, will stop all but the absolutely most determined Brit from clicking that ‘book now’ button for a July holiday. Some holidays are of course already scheduled having been booked before the state of alarm, but in this current situation of uncertainty the number of new bookings may be very low. If I were booking now, I would go for August or September for sure. I am certain many people will feel the same.
Of course the British will come eventually, of that there is no doubt, but for many Ibiza businesses when they will come is a very important question.
UK Tourism Ratio; Balearics vs Ibiza
Highlighting the importance of this point we can consider the overall tourist numbers to the Balearics as a whole compared to just Ibiza.
Over the past two years the number of British visitors to the Balearics in July and August has been more or less equal to the number of Germans.
However, in Ibiza the British market has a hugely bigger ratio. In fact, the number of British visitors to Ibiza is equal to the Italian, French and German market combined.
Those businesses that aim for British tourism will be particularly hard hit, but there is no hiding from the fact that Ibiza will suffer as a whole if that 28% market share represented by the British cannot or will not travel.
If Not the British, Who?
That said, if the British can’t come we will have to make the best of things. So if not the British, who can we expect.
We took the tourist statistics for 2018 and 2019 for July and August and averaged them out to find the following.
As you would expect, Spain are next in the numbers, and there is every reason to believe that the hurdles in international travel and reluctance to do so will see the ratio of Spanish tourists far greater in 2020.
Next come the Italians, with a particularly high number in August during the Industrial shut down season.
The surprise on the list for many people will be that the surge in Dutch visitors to Ibiza in recent years now has Holland and Belgium considerably ahead of both German and French visitors.
Another point to remember is that the significant ‘rest of the world’ number – some 14% – will also be precluded from travel in July. To our knowledge it is only European borders that are opening on the 1st July.
It is still impossible to say exactly when UK tourists will be able to travel to Ibiza, certainly without it being more hassle than a holiday is worth. But one factor I would take into account – both Ocean Beach and ibiza Rocks are open for business from the beginning of July. These are clever people who will have a focus on the essential core factor of whether there will be business. They both think there will, and that says a lot.
In the meantime, though most Dutch people speak better English than the British so fortunately no language learning is required, it might be worth popping some Frikandel on the menu and practicing three kisses instead of two – air kisses of course, at the correct social distance.