Party Tourism; the Effects of a Drug Sub-Culture in Ibiza

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The following report examines the impact of party tourism in Ibiza, Spain. Ibiza has been widely regarded as the best spot for party tourism in the world and the amount of tourists visiting the destination for the sole purpose of partying replicates this trend. However, this type of tourism is not ideal and the pressure it creates on a small destination is quite extensive.

The report gives insight into the amount of drugs taken by individuals, with the findings indicating the majority of visitors who use back home increase their amount when holidaying in Ibiza. For those who do not use at home, 16 per cent experimented for the first time while in Ibiza. Details are also given into the usage patterns of casual labour working in Ibiza over the summer period.

The report shows the impact drugs have on a destination and in particular Ibiza, where increase in crime has become a major issue with gangs fighting for the drug trade. Moreover, a description for the potential damage this tourism market has on a destination’s image is reported, with most other forms of tourists beginning to relocate elsewhere.

A comparison with an Australian Capital City is entailed. The results show similar drug usage, however Melbourne has more government support for strategies combating the use of illicit drugs in nightclubs.

Finally, some recommendations of potential strategies to minimise drug consumption in Ibiza are discussed at the conclusion of the paper.


90 kilometres off the coast of Spain lays the island of Ibiza, home to 2.6 million visitors per annum (Botsford, 2001). The figure may not seem immense, although considering Spain recorded an annual visitation number of 53.5 million in 2006 (UNWTO, 2007), and up to date tourist numbers in Ibiza would to represent a high increase in tourism arrivals, it is a large number in relation to the tourism market Ibiza attracts. Previously known for a culture of laid back attitudes and a hippie orientated life style, Ibiza soon started to attract tourism growth with the increase of music events and nightclub developments from owners already established in the United Kingdom (Horner, & Swarbrooke, 2004: 230). Over the course of four decades stretching from the 70’s, Ibiza’s tourist market began to alter. The easy going lifestyle and relaxed atmosphere started to disperse, instead changing into a destination of constant late night partying and drug influenced tourists. “Ibiza has become synonymous over the past two decades with the drug-infested clubbing, or raving, subculture. Every summer, young tourists visit the destination and escape into drugs, alcohol, non-stop dancing and anonymous sex“ states (Harman, 2002). (Curley, 2007) reinforces this comment, although suggests that the drug culture has been symbolic for decades, “since late 1960’s drugs have been a factor in attracting tourists to Ibiza”. The increasing demand for party tourism in Ibiza has seen an increase in the amount of drugs available in nightclubs and party spots in Ibiza. (Chesshyre, 2001) supports this matter by stating, “Drugs, if you want them, are freely available in Ibiza. I was approached countless times during my visit.” Instances like these would be considered remarkable if, for instance, were reported from Venice or Hawaii, but it would appear now that this drug sub-culture that rules Ibiza has affected the island on many levels. However, there is the perception that Ibiza has become dependant on party tourism for economic growth and for the summer months when the party tourists are there, Ibiza residents like Pablo Vincente resent the clubbers, but benefit from the tourism money they bring in. “We complain, but we need them” (Harman, 2002). For the party tourist, why would you go anywhere else to experience the nightlife? This is the destination that charges 12 euros for a standard alcoholic beverage, but yet the cost of a pill that keeps you going for hours cost 5...
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