Ibiza 2023 Mid Season Report

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Written by Dan Kirwan

As we approach the third week of August and the traditional peak season in Ibiza, the island continues to evolve from a social and economic perspective. Businesses are reporting an ever-changing market with ups and downs and little certainty. However, one sector that continues to perform strongly is the nightlife industry, with clubs reporting sold-out crowds and more robust sales than in 2022. Nearly five million people have passed through Ibiza Airport in the first seven months of the year, an increase of 12% compared to last year. Over half of those visitors were Spanish, with British tourists leading the non-national market, followed by the Italians, Germans, French, and Dutch and for the first time, the Americans have entered the charts.


The behaviour of the tourist market has seen the most significant change. While tourist footfall increases, spending power decreases with higher demand for weekend trips. The Hotels are reporting lower occupancy rates, especially in June, which saw a 5% drop compared to 2022. The five-star Hotel sector has reported a decline of 40% in occupancy rates, and many businesses report that people are spending less. Car rental companies say that clients are renting cars by the day rather than the week, with restaurants and shops complaining that increased rates for hotel rooms have led to customers visiting less often and being careful with their spending. Breakfasts are busy, but afternoons and evenings are not normal. Taxis are once again hard to secure as drivers cherry-pick the most profitable and easy fares.  The national Spanish market tends not to eat out in tourist restaurants; they will take a Bocadillo to the beach and cook dinner in their apartment to save money.  The Italian market is suffering the most in the current European recession. 

The Hotels blame the unlicensed accommodation sector for the drop in occupancy rates compared to the notable increase in tourist footfall. In response, the private villas and Airb&B market say that more people are staying with relatives, friends, and on boats to avoid the increased prices across the island. The evidence suggests that tourists are very price-sensitive this year, and the majority are not paying inflated and excessive charges, which the island is now earning a reputation for. Ibiza is losing competitiveness as other European destinations become more attractive to non-clubbing tourists. The sooner they wake up to this fact, the better, as they risk killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. The local market is deserting the Ibiza regulars, families, and singles in favour of adult-only clubbing tourists, who only accounted for 15% of the market less than a decade ago. Today, they are responsible for over 60% of the market.  Everywhere is short of staff this season, due to the accommodation and homeless crisis. 

While the clubbing tourists are happy to pay associated club prices and party essentials, they are cutting back in other areas to afford a weekend having it large in Ibiza. I know of people who arrive in Ibiza Friday evening, go partying straight through the night into Saturday afternoon and book into a hotel room for Saturday to change, shower and get a few hours of sleep before partying Saturday night and flying out Sunday evening. Paying for just one night’s accommodation or sleeping on a friend’s couch allows them to visit more often and spend less than a traditional week’s holiday. The tourist market in Ibiza is in flux, but it is evident that the clubbing sector is driving the demand for high-spend tourists. Hotels have increased their weekend rates to balance the fall in demand for mid-week rooms, which now offer some value.

While the clubs were forecasting a 10% drop from record-breaking figures last year, they now report that the Ibiza 2023 season is just as strong. Driving demand is the Spanish, British, Italian and Dutch markets. Villa parties are just as popular this season, and there seem to be fewer police raids finding them. Once again, HI and Ushuaia are setting all the trends with the most popular parties on the island; the only problem they have right now is the restricted size of their venues, especially Ushuaia, hampered by its pool area. This year’s big news story confirmed that Ushuaia Entertainment would develop the old Privilege Club site to cater to a stadium audience. It is also rumoured that the new venue will carry the Space Ibiza branding, an iconic brand that will be reinvented under the Midas touch of the Pissenem Brothers. At Hi, Black Coffee is the King of the Dancefloor, selling out several nights at the venue. Afterlife will require a bigger platform, and they, along with David Guetta, look destined to move to the new club at Privilege when it opens, which will allow a number of Ushuaia parties to transfer to Hi. The mid-week parties at Hi are busy, but the weekend events are doing better, including Glitterbox. Tiesto is holding his own over at Ushuaia, and he is expected to return next season, as will Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike. Ants continue to hold pole position at Ushuaia, and it would be one of the favourites to transfer to a new venue as I expect a shake-up in schedules when the new Privilege development is ready for action. There will be at least four new slots available to schedule, and I would guess they have a fair idea of who they want to fill them. 

A new modern venue across the road from Amnesia will ensure a stormy future for the underground club, battling to stay relevant in the ever-changing clubbing landscape on the island. While Jamie Jones, Elrow and Pyramid are doing well, sadly, the black curtain has been drawn on some other parties at Amnesia, which is not a good look for its reputation. Amnesia needs to change its business model and do more once-off shows like the Chemical Brothers, which will return to the venue for Pyramid on October 1. Like Luke Skywalker, their estranged DJ, Sven Vath, has retreated to the remote planet of Las Dalias, where he is playing an intimate masterclass in minimal techno. Only two Catharsis parties remain at Las Dalias, so if you are on the island, take advantage of the opportunity to experience one. The rebel alliance at Amnesia needs their old Jedi to return as the First Order orbits their home base with superior financial and political firepower

Pacha is the only club giving Hi and Ushuaia a run for their money this season. Their two heavyweight hitters, Solomon and Marco Carola, are battling to secure the #1 party accolade at the prestigious club, sold earlier this summer to Dubai-based holding company Five Holdings for 320 million euros. The title bout between Music On and Solomon will go the distance this season; at present, it’s too close to call, but Solomon is packing a more potent punch than last year. In an odd move, Pacha brought their two big names together for a B2B set to celebrate their 50th anniversary, an all-day and night party that kicked off at Destino and ended at Pacha. It was like mixing Pepsi and Coke; some did not enjoy the taste. The other party that has been a revelation at Pacha this season is CamelPhat, who have successfully lured a British crowd to Ibiza town, a task that many before them have failed to do. Of the other clubs, Defected is packing out Eden, and it’s the number 1 party in San Antonio as Es Paradis continues to exist in a time warp. The new look DC 10 is having a good season, with the amps pumping out the underground beats a little louder than before the local elections; however, the absence of their star performer Micheal Bibi due to illness is a significant loss. Underground has been quiet this season, but it remains open three days a week. Pikes is doing well, and there are some cool parties there, most notably the Back To Mine event, which will host the upcoming birthday celebration of Gok Wan on Thursday, August 31. Ocean Beach is in rude health and is sold out most days this summer. It remains the most profitable business in San Antonio. Ibiza Rocks is catering to a younger crowd but with champagne tastes and lemonade pockets.

Ibiza has become a victim of its own success.

In Politics, the socialists were wiped out at the local elections in May, which will silence the environmentalists and neighbourhood watch associations. The pro-business Partido Popular party, the Tories of Spain, swept to a majority victory and seized control of all five municipalities on the island. However, their celebration party was rained on after Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez called a snap General election, going all in to try and win the war after being defeated in the local election battle. To the dismay of the PP and their fascist allies VOX, Sanchez pulled off a shock comeback, which installed Balearic island Palma socialist Francina Armengol as president of the Spanish Congress. Ibicencos dislike taking orders from the regional capital, Palma and during the COVID shutdown, Armengol was viewed as the wicked witch of the west in Ibiza. While the PP party attempted to court the Basque separatists to form a government, the Sanchez alliance dealt with their arch enemies, the Catalan Independents, who put them back in power, which is sure to rub salt into their wounds and ensure a feisty political landscape in Ibiza for the next four years.

The most noticeable factor that has emerged in recent years is the growing power and influence of the nightlife industry on “Brand Ibiza”. Ibiza and its party reputation especially enamours the Instagram and TikTok generations. With disposable incomes and no children, they now drive the tourist model, resulting in rising prices and improved facilities. Gone are the pinewood furniture and plastic chairs, replaced by designer fittings and Bali daybeds. However, this environment has compromised the other side of Ibiza, the families, and those who enjoyed the more innocent, laid-back island that many of my generation fell in love with. So much so that several well-known local Ibicenco restaurants, bars and hotels have sold out to Spanish and international investors happy to trade on the party Ibiza brand; it is a new tourist model that is commercial and corporate in its experience-driven ethos. Ibiza has become a victim of its success; greed is more prevalent than love, and the magic is gone for many regulars who visited before 2010. In contrast, the kids seem to love the new Ibiza; it’s a status symbol to share on their timelines, and they are happy to spend lots of cash, which local business is delighted to relieve them of. It’s their time now, and I would guess it will only get better for them and less attractive for those who reminisce about old Ibiza.

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