The new rules affect three tourist hotspots in the Balearic Islands.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated January 21, 2020

The phrase "Balearic Islands" might not be as familiar to many Americans, yet mention "Ibiza" and plenty from that same group would have a swimsuit and MDMA in a bag ready to go. That reputation is something the Spanish archipelago—which is also known for the tourist islands of Majorca and Minorca—has dealt with for decades. But now, the regional government has announced a major crackdown on its previously unbridled party atmosphere.

The newly-passed bill bans happy hours and other types of drink specials, open bars, and bar crawls; booze shops will have to close from 9:30 p.m. until 8:00 a.m.; and party boats are also facing new limitations including advertising restrictions and a freeze on new licenses. The law also specifically forbids jumping from balconies: Leaping between hotel balconies and into swimming pools—a practice known as "balconing"—kills several people every year, according to The Telegraph. Meanwhile, Ibiza's world-renowned clubs appear to have dodged any additional bullets.

Scott E Barbour/Getty Images

Importantly, the new rules only apply to three of the Balearic Islands' most notorious tourist spots—Magaluf and Playa de Palma on Majorca and San Antonio on Ibiza—and initially are set to last for only five years. "Efforts to promote the destination, to improve its quality—through both public and private investments—and position it in an increasingly competitive and global market have recently been affected by certain uncivil behaviors, most of which are directly related to alcohol abuse," the government said in the announcement.

However, questions remain about whether these changes could damage the economy. Will limited drink sales limit income? Will tourists simply stop coming? Or could this kind of behavior simply move to other parts of the islands? "I find this exaggerated and disproportionate," Jose Tirado, president of Majorca's Tourism Services and Businesses Association, was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

Having been to Magaluf myself, the experience is a bit jarring for a first-timer. Despite technically being in a Spanish city, most of the people are British. Nearly every beachfront restaurant served a full English breakfast. It reminded me a bit of Pennsylvanians going to the Jersey shore except instead of driving, Brits take inexpensive flights. "The strip transports a night out in Leeds [a university city in the north of England] to a nicer climate, virtually everyone's English and it's essentially Neverland," a 23-year-old Brit explained to CNN Travel. When it's put that way, you can see why local officials might want to rein some things in.

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