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Drinking Habits

Why Were Restrictions Announced for Alcohol in Ibiza and Majorca?

June 18, 2024
19 min read
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June 18, 2024
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Understanding the New Alcohol Restrictions in Spain’s Balearic Islands

  • Islands like Ibiza and Majorca have announced new alcohol regulations ahead of their summer seasons.
  • Tropical island vacations often go hand in hand with alcohol, but the consequences can’t be ignored. With Spain’s Balearic Islands’ new alcohol regulations, we can explore strategies for practicing sober tourism. 
  • Reframe can help us prioritize our health and safety at home and on vacation!

While brainstorming destinations for our much-needed summer vacation, Spain’s sunny islands of Ibiza and Majorca might turn up at the top of our list. Known for their pristine beaches, warm weather, and party scene, the Balearic Islands are popular tourist destinations for good reason. 

This year, ahead of peak travel season, hot spots in Ibiza and Majorca have announced alcohol restrictions to promote responsible tourism. If this seems like they’re turning down the heat on our summer fun, take heart: we can still enjoy sun, sea, and zero-proof sangria this season! Let’s dive into everything we need to know about Ibiza’s and Majorca’s new alcohol regulations ahead of our travels.

Drinking Culture in Ibiza and Majorca

two glasses with drinks on a beach

Ibiza, Majorca, and Spain’s other islands have a strong party and drinking culture that is heavily influenced by the motherland. Spain has a strong drinking and party culture that is arguably even more deeply ingrained than those of the United States and other parts of the world where drinking is also entwined with social culture. 

Spain’s Balearic Islands’ party life also was influenced by the hippie and nonconformist culture of the 1960s and ‘70s. Artists, authors, and other creatives traveled to the islands to enjoy the laid-back environment. By the 1990s, locals and tourists alike had embraced Ibiza’s chill electronic dance music called Balearic beat.

Today, Ibiza and Majorca are labeled as two of the top party capitals of the world. Beautiful beach views, warm weather, and an iconic music scene go hand in hand with Spain’s drinking culture. The party scene, also dubbed “sun, sex, and sangria,” has come to define tourism in Ibiza and Majorca — but not without consequences. 

Consequences of Tipsy Tourism

No question the economy of Ibiza and Majorca has benefited from the tourism scene’s “endless party” appeal. Indeed, the government reports that tourism represents over 40% of the community’s GDP. However, the consequences of “tipsy tourism” have prompted the government to impose alcohol restrictions despite the potentially negative economic impact. The decision speaks volumes about the detrimental effects of tipsy tourism.

  • Alcohol-related injuries. Alcohol directly increases the risk of injury. Intoxication-related injuries may include road accidents, violent assaults, falls, drownings, and injuries in the workplace.
  • Alcohol-related deaths. Intoxication-related injuries and alcohol poisoning can lead to deaths. According to the CDC, approximately 61,000 deaths per year in the U.S. are attributed to drinking too much on one occasion. 
  • Unruly behavior/crime. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and impairs our judgment — increasing our risk of participating in reckless behaviors. Research shows that alcohol also increases the risk of criminal behavior
  • Environmental impacts. Reckless behavior also increases the risk of pollution and disregard for environmental harm. This leads to increased littering on beaches — negatively impacting marine life. Ibiza and Majorca are also known for large music festivals and raging parties, which increases the islands’ noise pollution.

Due to the many consequences of reckless drinking and partying, the government has announced new alcohol restrictions. Let’s learn about the new rules are and how they impacts vacationers.

Avoiding Island Intoxication: Alcohol Restrictions in Ibiza and Majorca

The alcohol restrictions affect the islands’ most popular party destinations. These include Llucmajor, Palma, and Magaluf in Majorca, and San Antonio in Ibiza. The new regulations took effect on 5/1/24 and are set to end on 12/31/27 in hopes that they won’t be needed anymore. Let’s see what the alcohol regulations consist of.

Alcohol Consumption

One of the major changes to the islands’ alcohol restrictions is the ban on drinking on public roads. This does not include terraces or other open areas of authorized areas such as bars or restaurants. Prior to the ban, public drinking was allowed, which increased access to alcohol — leading to excess consumption.  

The new law hopes to promote more responsible drinking and is in line with most other alcohol regulations in other parts of the world. Public drinking continues to be allowed in the unaffected areas of the islands. However, this major change suggests that restrictions may be imposed on other areas in the future, in hopes of improving the public health of residents and tourists of the islands.

Alcohol Sales

The ban on overnight alcohol sales remains the same. Shops are restricted from selling alcohol between 9:30 p.m. and 8 a.m. The ban applies only to shops. This means that alcohol can still be sold in authorized areas, including bars, restaurants, and clubs. 

While this regulation may not seem like a major restriction, the ban heavily limits the accessibility of alcohol. Alcohol can still be purchased in authorized areas; however, there’s greater oversight to limit excessive drinking when it’s only sold at licensed establishments. Also, businesses may refuse to sell alcohol to those who appear overly intoxicated.

Boating and Alcohol

The islands have a large party boat scene. Dancing your heart out to vibrant music in the middle of the sea, what’s not to love? Unfortunately, party boats and alcohol are a dangerous duo, as drinking on a boat has unique risks.

To put a damper on alcohol-related boating accidents, party boats are banned one nautical mile from the coast of the impacted areas. The boats are also restricted from picking up or dropping off passengers in the area. This new regulation is on top of the previous law set in 2020 that banned party boat advertisements in these same areas. 

Yes, that’s right. This isn’t the first time the government has imposed alcohol restrictions with the aim of promoting more responsible tourism. Let’s see how these new regulations differ from the previous attempts. 

How Do the New Rules Differ From Previous Alcohol Restrictions?

In 2020, during the  COVID pandemic, the local government first attempted to curb reckless partying by banning happy hours, pub crawls, two-for-one drink offers, and overnight alcohol sales. The new regulations announced ahead of summer 2024 add on to the 2020 restrictions. When the restrictions were first announced in 2020, it was suggested that they be imposed for the next five years. However, they have been extended until the end of 2027 when the government hopes bans will no longer be needed. 

Two of the main changes to the alcohol regulations are the ban on public drinking and heightened enforcement of these regulations. The government reports spending up to 16 million euros to increase security and inspections. Greater measures are also being taken to increase the awareness of the regulations and consequences in popular tourist areas. 

Violation of these regulations can result in fines between 750 and 1,500 euros. The violations include drinking that “disrupts coexistence, involves crowds, or deteriorates tranquility of the environment.” If particularly disruptive or a more serious offense, fines can range from 1,500 to 3,000 euros. The local government will also report the number of foreign tourists who have been sanctioned to their respective embassies, which may result in additional adverse effects. The alcohol restrictions hope to promote more responsible tourism. What positive effects might this have? 

 Potential Benefits of Ibiza’s and Majorca’s Alcohol Regulations

Potential Benefits of Alcohol Restrictions

Alcohol restrictions not only draw awareness to the issue but also benefit the public health, environment, and economy. Although it may be too soon to see the direct results of the expanded alcohol bans in Ibiza and Majorca, previous restrictions in the area and regulations in other major party destinations have led to positive impacts.

  • Reduced availability of alcohol. Decreased availability of alcohol leads to decreased alcohol consumption since it’s harder to get. Let’s say the nearest McDonald’s is an hour away. Aren’t we less likely to eat there since it’s not just down the street? Since alcohol is associated with decreased inhibitions, impaired judgment, and impacted coordination, decreased alcohol consumption can limit reckless behaviors.
  • Fewer alcohol-related accidents. Alcohol slows down messaging in our brain and from our brain to the rest of our body. This can impair our thinking and coordination. By limiting alcohol, related accidents such as falling, alcohol poisoning, vehicle accidents, drowning, and more can be prevented. 
  • Fewer alcohol-related health consequences. Alcohol is a toxin that is associated with many acute and long-term health consequences. Specifically, binge drinking, which is common with destination partying, increases the risk of alcohol poisoning — a major factor in the increase in alcohol-related emergency room visits. 
  • Fewer alcohol-related economic expenses. It’s true that tourism makes up a large part of the islands’ GDP. However, costs for increased medical care, the legal system, and vehicle collisions can put a dent in the Balearic Islands’ economy despite tourist spending. 
  • More positive environmental impact. More responsible tourism can also have a positive environmental impact. The party culture of Ibiza and Majorca have severe environmental consequences through water pollution and noise pollution. 

Alcohol restrictions may yield benefits, but do they actually work?

Do Alcohol Restrictions Work? 

Alcohol bans are a commonly debated topic, as they haven’t always worked well in the past. Prohibition in the U.S. banned all alcohol from 1920 to 1933, but it backfired as crime rose due to smuggling and bootlegging. However, alcohol restrictions have proven to be beneficial in many ways. 

Although alcohol is legal in most areas, there are restrictions such as legal drinking age, operating a vehicle, and public intoxication. They have helped reduce alcohol-related consequences. Certain counties, cities, and towns across the U.S. have imposed stricter alcohol regulations, which have shown to have potential benefits.

One of the most recent is the Miami Beach Spring Break “Breakup.” Another big party destination, Miami Beach imposed stricter regulations during the 2024 spring season, such as banning alcohol on beaches, imposing curfews, and adding checkpoints. As a result, the city reported no spring break-related shootings, while arrests fell 8%, and gun seizures fell below 70.

Tips for Sober Tourism

Alcohol is associated with fun and partying, but the truth is, we can have a blast without the negative effects of drinking. We can practice sober tourism and continue to enjoy iconic vacation destinations without booze and its unpleasant aftereffects.

  • Learn about the culture. Ibiza and Majorca are known for their party scene, but they also have unique, vibrant cultures to explore. Check out the historic buildings, hippie markets, and delicious food.
  • Explore different areas. The parts of Ibiza and Majorca that are affected by the alcohol restrictions are those known for the party scene. To avoid the crowds and discover all the islands have to offer (sans booze), explore other areas such as Northern Ibiza and Sierra de Tramuntana in Majorca. 
  • Try alcohol-free activities. The Balearic Islands may be small, but there’s no shortage of activities. Sightsee on a bike tour, go on a culinary adventure, try scuba diving and revel in the marine life, or lay back and relax on the picturesque beaches.
  • Go on a sober crawl. Explore the islands’ fun drinks on a sober crawl. Ibiza and Majorca both have no shortage of bars with dedicated mocktail menus. Get a taste of local flavors without the negative effects of alcohol. 

Sober tourism can be a blast anywhere you go. Say goodbye to spending the day recovering after a long night out, and never again forget your best moments with friends and family.

Let the Fun Begin!

Ibiza and Majorca are known as two of the top party capitals of the world, but the detrimental effects of the endless boozy celebrations have prompted the local government to impose stricter alcohol regulations. Since alcohol is associated with reckless behavior, by limiting access to alcohol through regulations, the community hopes to improve public health, the environment, and the economy. Remember, no matter where we’re traveling in the world, we can have fun and practice responsible tourism at the same time!

Summary FAQs

1. Why did Ibiza and Majorca impose new alcohol bans ahead of their summer season?

The government has announced stricter alcohol regulations to promote more responsible tourism. 

2. What do the Balearic Islands’ new alcohol restrictions consist of?

The new alcohol restrictions include no drinking in public, party boat regulations, and a ban on the sale of alcohol from 9:30 p.m. to 8 a.m.

3. What are the benefits of alcohol restrictions?

Alcohol restrictions decrease alcohol consumption, which can decrease unruly behavior and alcohol-related accidents.

4. How are the new restrictions different from previous alcohol bans?

The main change is the ban on public drinking. The government has also spent a considerable sum to better enforce these bans. 

5. How can I have fun on vacation while sober?

Sober tourism can include exploring the destination’s culture, sights, sounds, activities, and a taste of local flavors without the negative effects of alcohol. 

Explore the Benefits of Sober Tourism With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

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