It's about time areas catered for the kind of tourists they want

As I just wrote to friends living on a Mediterranean island: “It’s been summer here for the last few weeks, wonderful weather, 18C to 20C, but everything is very green or flowery, all the whitethorns in bloom and a procession of wildflowers in the ditches and on the old stone wall, mixes of colours and forms and vegetable constructions to take the breath away."

It's about time areas catered for the kind of tourists they want

As I just wrote to friends living on a Mediterranean island: “It’s been summer here for the last few weeks, wonderful weather, 18C to 20C, but everything is very green or flowery, all the whitethorns in bloom and a procession of wildflowers in the ditches and on the old stone wall, mixes of colours and forms and vegetable constructions to take the breath away.

"One won’t find a square metre without plant life — extraordinary! So, it’s a lovely spring, but what a pity its future is under threat.”

We’ve had friends visiting from the same island, Ibiza, in the Balearics, off the Spanish coast. Ibiza is a lovely island, now getting seriously overcrowded. It had developed an unwelcome reputation as a lager-lout venue in summer. This wasn’t correct: only a few locations attracted that crowd. The rest of the island is idyllic by any standard.

There were ‘foam’ discos, but that was years ago: they gave way to massive discos without the foam, discos that could take 10,000 ravers, discos that started at four in the afternoon, discos that opened at 2am when other discos closed, discos that continued into the following morning; one could disco dance all but 24 hours a day.

MDMA and various speed-and-psychedelic substances sustained the dancers.

Most were very young and had energy to burn.

Ibiza was quite different when I lived there in the early 60s. Then, it was a dusty backwater banished from commerce by Franco, served by one boat a day from Barcelona, and twice-weekly boats from Alicante and Valencia.

The ex-pat community was small; it wouldn’t have filled a village dancehall, let alone a disco. The number of ex-pats with houses could be counted on two hands. Now, countless old farmhouses belong to ex-pats and no such house — or even ruins — can be bought for less than €1,000,000.

That’s how things, over the last half century (almost 60 years now) have panned out.

Of the population of 140,000, natives now comprise only 55%. Rental prices are such that restaurant, bar and service facility staff cannot afford to live on the wages they earn. It’s a crisis widely talked about. It’s a cause of deep distress for those affected. Locals recently marched in objection to ‘over-tourism’.

Measures are being taken. The influx of over three million visitors a year must be stemmed.

Visitors must be cherry-picked in the future. Half the number of rich would bring the same income to the island as today’s burgeoning package visitors, especially the disco kids. So, the new plan is to cultivate top-end visitors.

The roads may then be less clogged with traffic, the cheaper properties may be cheaper and affordable to the workers, not exploited by landlords for visitor rents.

The moves made to transform Ibiza Inc. is applauded by many locals and business people. One rich Italian couple or family will spend three times the money spent by three kids from the north of England, there to ‘get off their heads’.

Italians are being especially cultivated and catered for by one town, San Antonio. Much has to be done.

The town has to be geared up to sophistication and the disco kids mustn’t be around to get in the way.

They’re not a bad lot, the disco kids. Some, having been a bit excessive, can be messy. It’s less aggression than simply being drunk or hopped up on speed or victims of too many nights on the trot and being dog tired and emotional.

Tailoring for tourism is a fashion long practiced in America, in Florida, the Everglades, Cape Cod, or Las Vegas.

A viable holiday venue that is downmarket in terms of view, natural history, and outdoor venues, may be okay for a disco-going crowd, or gamblers and ‘sporting club’ clients who aren’t interested in the aforementioned in any case.

Affordable prices will attract them. They don’t seek exclusivity or fresh air — they seek the action.

Another location has glorious beaches, good boat fishing, space for golf courses... so, go build luxury accommodation and pitch the prices to deter the hoi-polloi.

Expel the riff-raff, making sure there are no unsavoury elements in sight.

Then, there are the accessible nature venues, where visitors get up early and are in bed by midnight.

They’re on the trot before the sun gets hot, on a trek up a mountain, into a forest, onto a whale-watch boat or down visiting the beach to do their tai-chi on the sand.

It’s the kind of venue I like — a quiet, unspoiled place with maybe a bit of music at a local pub. It sounds like an Irish village or one in La Gomera, in the Canaries.

It sounds like the place I live.

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