Abta has warned the Balearics authorities it could drive away UK families if it adopts a “misguided” proposal to restrict alcohol at all-inclusive hotels.
Abta’s director of destinations and sustainability, Nikki White, said the local authorities’ plan to limit booze to meal times at all‑inclusives would “not effectively address the issues”.
She believes the move, aimed at reducing excessive drinking and antisocial behaviour, would penalise families rather than rowdy young people.
White said: “This proposal is misguided…it targets the wrong market. Typically, all-inclusive customers in the Balearics are not 22-year-olds, but families who appreciate the convenience and ability to control budgets. Restricting their choices may drive families elsewhere.”
Writing exclusively for Travel Weekly, White also called on the Balearics to develop a more “joined up” approach, and suggested bars and supermarkets should be more strict about checking customers’ IDs when they purchase booze.
“It can be easy and tempting to take a snap decision with a “something needs to be done“ attitude, but Abta’s experience is that it makes much more sense to take a more balanced, evidence-based approach. The Balearics can learn from previous successful collaborative initiatives, such as the fight against false holiday sickness claims…..not simply proposing single issue legislation that would not in any way effectively address the issues,” said White, who also questioned whether drunken behaviour was in fact on the rise.
Tui backed Abta, calling for “extensive research” before such a proposal is implemented. A spokesman said: “As the leading package holiday operator to destinations including the Balearics, we’re involved in discussions on the proposals to introduce restrictions on all inclusive holidays in the region.
“We’re open to engaging with the authorities to tackle any issues surrounding alcohol consumption and inappropriate behaviour. We don’t, however, accept that all inclusive resorts are part of the problem and the data we have seen doesn’t support that suggestion.
“Our customers tell us the driving factor to booking an all inclusive holiday is simply to have certainty over the cost of their holiday which is even more important in the current climate. As well as supporting our customers, we also want to stand by our suppliers who are currently facing demand challenges. We would therefore ask for extensive research to be carried out to provide reliable evidence on cause and effect before any decisions are made or action is taken.”
The Balearic government is adamant families would not be put off visiting. Bel Busquet, vice-president and Balearic Island minister for innovation, research and tourism, said: “This proposed law will help crack down on antisocial drinking and the associated problems this brings.
“While we want visitors to enjoy their holidays, we want to endorse responsible drinking.” If approved, the plans are unlikely to become law until at least 2022.
The government said it was aware all inclusive hotels did not bear sole responsibility for the problem of “booze tourism” but said the proposal was one of many different approaches to the anti-social behaviour issues experienced in tourist resorts.
Meanwhile, fines of up to €3,000 come into force on April 1 for antisocial behaviour in tourist areas in Palma, where happy hour and two-for-one offers will be banned.