A recent article in the Periodico de Ibiza has once again aired the old chestnut about Ibiza opening as an all year round tourist resort. A local socialist politician, appealing to her support base, stated that she did not support Winter tourism on the island because she felt the workforce was shattered after working the summer season. It did not take long for the vested interests, business owners and political opponents to weigh in with mock aghast and corporate outcry at her comments. Before I give my opinion on this matter I will state that my political leaning is to the left and in support of what Podemos stands for, a fair and equal environment for all the people of Spain. I don’t want to go off on a rant about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer thats for another time, but for now, lets stick to the matter at hand, whether or not Ibiza should stay open all year round.
In my opinion the current summer tourist model works perfectly. I would subscribe to the old adage of if its not broken dont fix it, as Ibiza offers a product that is unique and differentiates itself from any other tourist model out there. That is one of its unique selling points, it adds value because it is only available for a limited period of time; ie 6 months. In my opinion if the season was extended this value would be diluted as we all grow weary of the commonplace. Business and property owners in Ibiza have traditionally added a premium to their summer season prices to allow for the 6 months they are not working, so asking for more will always raise the question of greed, something Ibiza seems to be fighting a loosing battle against right now.
A record 1.7 million tourists visited the island last summer placing a huge burden on its fragile ecosystem. The little island with a big heart can only take so much and is in danger of sinking under the environmental weight of mass tourism, which includes noise pollution, sewerage pollution and pressure on water supplies. Are we just going to keep pushing the island until it breaks? The tourist free winter season allows the island to recover from a huge drain on its resources and the residents themselves will tell you that they love to get their island back in November when the tourists depart. More parking, easier to get around and less accidents to clean up after. Least we forget that Ibiza is also a home to many people, not just a tourist resort.
From a workers perspective I would agree with Ms Camargos comments that the workers deserve a break after a hard season. As a person who spent a summer working on the island I understand the full on pace and hard work that is required to make a living there. In the service industry every night is a Saturday night. Its not easy and I know many people who work two jobs and more during the season, often working 18 hours a day to make the most of the low paid employment opportunities available to them.Family time during the summer season is limited due to long and unsociable hours, the off season allows quality time to spend with loved ones. The Spanish have a different work ethic to that Northern Europe or America, they work to live rather than live to work in the daily rat race of modern commercialism.
I respect that culture and in my opinion they are better people for appreciating the simple things in life like family, friends and being happy, something Ibiza has shown me in my life. Sadly, in corporate Europe, we seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing. The life-work balance in Ibiza of 6 months on and 6 months off is perfect in my opinion and that may be a reason why so many creative people want to live there. Ibiza was always about collecting moments, not things.
From a practicable and business point of view a 12 month season has never worked in the past. It has been tried, even subsidised, with very little success. If there was a demand for its product and it was a viable option for airlines to fly in there, then Micheal O’Leary and other savvy businessmen would be profiting from it. While I would love to see it in the shoulder months, there seems no desire by the islands tourism board to push the soft or Eco friendly slow side of Ibiza, they seem happy to capitalise on one sector of the market. Also does Ibiza offer the climate in winter to compete with the Canaries, Thailand and America? I don’t think so. From a clubbing perspective Amnesia had to fold a New Years Eve party weekend due to lack of interest.
Corporate business has already eaten away at the Ibiza I know and love. Space is gone, the beaches are monetised, local hotels and businesses are selling out to big chains, VIP culture is on the rise, the music industry is telling Ibiza what to do and greed is on the increase. There is an accommodation crisis that is forcing skilled workers to go elsewhere and many are saying that the island is in danger of being lost. I will always believe in the island and be reassured by the many good people that live and work there and for the majority of them, its not about the money, its about the quality of life. Consolidate and improve the successful business model already present but at all times remember that it is the social factor that draws many people to the island, not just the business aspect and the present balance between the two is just right in my opinion, there is no need to change it.