Local authorities in Ibiza and Majorca are implementing better and better alcohol policy solutions to better protect local people from the harms caused by ‘booze tourism’. The new policies benefit three resorts on Mallorca and San Antonio since May 11.

The pervasive social harm of alcohol is motivating the authorities of the Balearic Islands to step up alcohol policies incrementally. Already four years ago, the Spanish local authorities first tried to address harm by tourists under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol was fueling much of the disruption and disorderly conduct in the tourist areas of Mallorca and Ibiza. At first, the authorities implemented limited policies to lower alcohol availability. Happy hour promotions and other special alcohol promotions were banned first, for example. Shops were first banned from selling alcohol after hours, and party boats were also given limited access to certain areas.

This piecemeal approach did not solve the problems that local people were increasingly facing.

Therefore, the authorities took action now to further improve alcohol policy – more in line with international standards. For instance, certain resorts in Mallorca and Ibiza are no longer allowed to sell alcohol between 10.30 pm and 08.00 am. The new policies apply to the Llucmajor, Palma, and Calvia resorts on Mallorca and San Antonio, Ibiza.

Party boats are also no longer allowed to approach these resorts to pick people up or drop them off. Serious fines mean that disorderly tourists will now be held accountable for the harm they cause under the influence of alcohol. These fines can amount to between €750 and €1,500, and can be even as high as €3,000 in serious cases.

The authorities plan to spend up to €16 million in enforcing the new and improved alcohol policy solutions to improve local residents’ communities. In addition to enforcing the bans, the money will be spent on security, inspections, and raising awareness among tourists.

The ban came into effect on the May 11, 2024, and is expected to expire on December 31, 2027.

National level action to lower alcohol availability in Spain

In 2022, Movendi International reported about actions that the Spanish government and other municipalities were taking to place common sense limits on alcohol availability to begin tackling Spain’s massive alcohol harm. This action was prompted by the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the country – the leading cause of death and the second leading cause of hospitalizations with alcohol being a major risk factor.

In 2019, cardiovascular diseases affected 9.8% of the population. In light of this, the Spanish Ministry of Health launched the Strategy for Cardiovascular Health. The Inter-territorial Council of the National Health System (ESCAV) approved the strategy on April 27, 2022.

The strategy proposed to address risk factors of cardiovascular disease, such as alcohol consumption, with a comprehensive approach.

Meanwhile, local authorities also banned all-inclusive alcohol offers in order to lower alcohol use and related harms. Magaluf and El Arenal on Mallorca and Ibiza adopted this new policy at the time. These areas have a long history of being affected by alcohol-fueled tourism and the alcohol industry’s exploitation of tourism to drive alcohol sales up. The islands off Spain have fallen prey to ‘booze tourism’ due to these industry tactics.

Spain’s high alcohol burden

In 2021, Movendi International reported about the Spanish government’s first comprehensive report on alcohol that showcased the country’s high alcohol burden. The report incorporated elements from the information systems of the Spanish Observatory on Drugs and Addictions (OEDA), and information from other relevant and reliable sources.

Alcohol was the fourth leading risk factor regarding Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) in Spain, ranking second in women and fifth in men. 

  • Alcohol consumption caused 15,489 annual deaths between 2010-2017,
    • 74% of those in men, and 
    • 55.7% being premature deaths (before reaching 75 years of age).

The report’s main findings were:

  • 77.9% of the students reported alcohol consumption sometime in their life (76.3% of males and 79.4% of females).
    • 77.5% of this was in the last 12 months (74.1% of males and 77.5% of females).
    • 58.5% was in the last 30 days (57.2% of males and 59.8% of females).
  • The prevalence of consumption for these time periods is higher in girls than in boys.
  • The age for the first alcohol use is 14 years on average for both sexes.
Spanish students including minors find it easy to access alcohol
Students find it very easy to access alcohol with 94.9% students regardless of whether they were of legal age or not reporting they obtain alcohol easily.

Students in Spain say it is very easy to access alcohol. 94.9% of students regardless of whether they were of legal age or not report that they obtain alcohol very easily.

Good governance entails prioritising the health and well-being of the people and the communities they live in. Spanish authorities stepping up efforts to protect local residents from alcohol harm highlights the responsibility of governments at all levels to protect people from alcohol’s second-hand harm.

Moreover, the alcohol burden in Spain is bigger than ‘booze tourism’. There is an urgent need for more comprehensive laws that address alcohol affordability, availability, and marketing.


Accent magazine: “Spanish tourist islands are taking action against alcoholic tourism

Sky news: “Alcohol ban in Ibiza and Majorca – what tourists need to know as new rules come in

Travel Weekly: “Balearics toughens rules on late night alcohol sales

For further reading