For the first time since the arrival of Covid 19 onto the Iberian Peninsula, Spain has recorded a downward curve on its climbing infection graphs. More people are leaving hospital recovered and Pedro Sanchez has just announced a further two week lockdown giving the country a realistic chance of saving some of its tourist season. There are three schools of thought on the island of Ibiza right now with regard to the 2020 season. One is the knee jerk “lets get the island open ASAP to save our businesses” group, the second is a less desperate sector “waiting” to see how the crisis pans out and thirdly, there are those quiet happy to close down the season, contain the virus and recuperate for 2021. In a pivotal move this week, the influential Matutes family gave us an idea of their Covid 19 response by publishing a “late check in” promotion on their social media platforms, indicating they are playing a waiting game with regard to summer 2020. To be brutally honest, nobody knows what may happen tomorrow, let alone next week. We are all sailing into uncharted waters, how stormy or calm those waters are, is up to each individual person and their personal situation, but for those without a financial life-jacket, there are stormy seas ahead.
Other important developments this week, included announcements by airline carriers Ryanair and Lufthansa, that they are aiming at a September return to flight schedules, while BA and Jet 2, have surmised a June and mid July start respectively. This could change again due to demand or a fast resolution to the crisis via a cure or vaccine. With all this additional information to hand, I feel its now a safe bet to write off May and June, all the Opening parties and much of the traditional clubbing season, however, there is still hope that July can be rescued and an opinion, that August, September and October, could be salvaged with the possible introduction of new business models. Its unlikely things are going to be the same again and a lot will depend on infection rates, possible vaccines and the heard immunity theory the UK and others have followed. One thing that is constant about this Covid 19 virus, is its daily dose of confusion and distraction injected into the debate, with a long list of conspiracy theories designed to instill fear and worry. I have found the best thing to do is to live in the present and take each day as it comes. Those of us who are healthy and with a roof over our heads in these uncharted times, will be grateful for what they have and not worry so much about what they don’t have – a creed the islands community loving Hippies practiced many decades ago.
The Mass Tourism taps, which feed much of the islands economy will be turned off this summer. Only the brave and those that can afford it, will travel to Ibiza from outside Spain this season. I would guess that tourists from mainland Spain will make up the majority of visitors that will want a holiday break but it will take an attractive package to incentivise them – a build it and they will come approach. Make no mistake, while the majority will prefer not to risk travelling this summer, preferring instead stay-vacations, there will be a die-hard element that will find a way to land on Ibiza’s shores. A Dunkirk style fleet of boats and vehicles departing European ports under their own steam you might say. Lots of people arrive in Ibiza each year on a very tight budget, busking their way down through Europe or like the sixties and seventies, hitching a ride on a Hippy train, so don’t write off the allure of Ibiza’s sirens call for some.
We will be discussing the clubbing industry in the final article of our Covid19 series, but for now and considering the risks associated to mass gatherings, the big super clubs will find it extremely difficult to open in their traditional format, as the income wont be there to pay the excessive wages of the celebrity and trendy DJ’s, some of which request fees of over €100,000 a party. If there is to be a silver lining to this crisis, the question of excessive fees to an elite club of industry insiders, will have to be addressed. The island has a deep gene pool of local DJ talent to draw from and some of these resident DJ’s, who were being asked to play for as little as €50 a gig last season and are a prime example of the inequality that exists in the industry. Can they be the saviors of a metamorphic music scene in Ibiza this summer? Will we witness the birth of a new underground wave of musical logistics? It was the legendary Sankeys promoter, David Vincent, who once told me you don’t need a full room to have a good party, you just need the right people. We will discuss this in more detail in our final article dedicated to the clubs. What Ibiza used to do really well was small and intimate – thats where real social and lasting connections are made, when it was more about substance than style and if the Spanish Government were to relax their rules on social gatherings to say 50 or 100 people, there are plenty of restaurants, beach bars and smaller local venues that could operate on a similar scale to the method currently being tested in Sweden, where they allow gatherings of up to 50 people while keeping restaurants and bars open.
With the mass tourism model in intensive care, what green shoots could emerge on the iron rich fertile red soil of Ibiza ? Private investment projects will be key, and those that offer a greener, safer and more sustainable holiday option, will in my opinion do well. Small is now beautiful and Villas, Yoga and Food Retreats, Agrotourismos, Restaurants, Bars and private Boats could be best positioned to survive this summer. Parts of the island are reverting back to their factory default settings and I am hoping there are enough clever and intuitive people waiting to plant new and fresh ideas on its landscape. Covid 19 is reconditioning how we live or lifes, what we prioritise and how we can work with mother nature in a more symbiotic and harmonious way. Ibiza is well positioned with a diverse, creative and adaptable crew on board – when challenges arise they usually find novel solutions to adapt. This summer the island will enjoy freedom on its Beaches, Roads and Restaurants. A more polished product can be delivered in what will be a much more relaxed environment. Friends and regular visitors to Ibiza will notice this fact and I would guess some will take advantage if best practice safety protocols are implemented by local councils for all service providers.
While confusion and uncertainty reigns, its best to live our lifes in the moment while dealing with problems as they arise. Nobody in Ibiza can say with any certainty what lies ahead and trying to set schedules and make plans at this stage is futile, as we dont know whats waiting for us around the corner. The clear message from Ibiza is that the island and all her refreshed beauty will be waiting for us when we do decide to return to her shores. She is not going anywhere, in fact it is Ibiza who is on holiday this year. I am confident Ibiza will react quickly and tailor a package to attract the few brave tourists that do venture out. We should not allow fear to beat us, but at the same time we need to take personal responsibility for our health and the safety of those around us. Whatever the future may hold and its going to be a transformative experience for many of us, we can take solace in the old saying that says, Necessity is the Mother of all creation, and trust in the human skill of engineering a way to fix problems and make our lifes better. Stay home, stay safe, be aware of your surroundings and look for the positive signs that living in the present brings.