The Mediterranean island of Ibiza attracts millions of British visitors every summer but in the wake of the Thomas Cook collapse could its shine be finally wearing off? Ibiza 2019-Waxing and Waning seeks to find out why
Travelling out on an evening flight at the beginning of October from London Gatwick the atmosphere on board the Easyjet plane was buzzing with anticipation.
The staff had announced moderation was expected yet drink sales were brisk.
Fellow passengers were discussing session end parties at world renown night clubs such as DC10 and Pacha with expectations of paying thousands of euros for exclusive tables and where tiny bottles of water cost breath taking amounts.
The staff at my hotel were very welcoming and remembered me from the my previous visits. As I looked out of the darkened sea from my room’s balcony as the soft breeze rustled the nearby palm trees problems in paradise were the last things on my mind.
Yet the cracks were there. I nipped over to my favourite bar where its manager was delighted to see me.
“The summer has been a bit this and that,” he confessed, from which I gathered trade had not been as good as usual although the bar was as full as its counterpart would have been back on Brighton’s seafront in midweek.
Ibiza 2019-Waxing and Waning
The next day a friend back at the hotel explained in more detail.
“Thomas Cook has hit us pretty bad,” she said.
“Although at the beginning and the end of the season we have our own customers who book direct, like yourself, in the busy months we are almost fully booked by Thomas Cook. The hotel hasn’t been paid for July and August, and we may not survive.”
Of course, if holiday makers with Thomas Cook packages, who have already paid for their accommodation are suddenly expected to find the money to pay their hotels then they must have had to drastically cut their going out money.
Tourists had been forced to buy the cheapest alcohol available from the larger supermarkets and soak up the sun on the beach, which in turn had a knock on effect on the local economy hurting everything from the bars to boat trips.
The season finishes on 31 October. Perhaps the winter months will give the island a chance to catch its breath and reflect upon the fact that although the island is famous for its superyachts and mega clubs it is ordinary tourists who make its economy tick.
I was a little disappointed at how little there was to entertain the average tourist. The beach near Ibiza Town where I was staying had no paddleboards nor pedalo boats.
It was either 9 euros for a lilo or thousands for a day out on a swanky motorboat and I couldn’t find anything in between.
Somebody said it would cost 300 euros just for a ride on a RIB. In comparison Rocket Ribs of Hamble UK charged just £25 for a return from the mainland to the Isle of Wight during the height of Cowes Week in August.
There also seemed to be a distinct chill with some of the locals towards outsiders. When I tried to buy some bits in a convenience store and was struggling understanding the change the attendant became aggressive over my inability to speak Spanish.
A German woman told me she had her bag stolen with all her ID and bank cards. It happened when she had put it down outside a bar whilst enjoying the fabulous sunset over the Old Town.
Yet the Ibiza magic was still there. Swimming with a mask and snorkel, I’d bought my own with me, on a calm day and the water was wonderfully clear. Looking down at least 20 feet past my toes to the sandy bottom I spied a shoal of quiet large fish chasing after hundreds of smaller ones.
The thought that Snappy the Shark might also be around made this undoubtedly the place to be.
Next day I visited Amoyachts, a charter company based in Betafoch Marina, whose staff always are very helpful and friendly. Whilst specialising in day charters of medium sized motor boats they at least had a paddleboard available for hire at 40 euros a day.
For a short trip around the harbour why not try the Aquabus? At less than 5 euros a ride it is a great way to get out on the water and take some photos. They run a regular service, and no booking is necessary. Just hop on and off, and there was careful staff to offer a helping hand when necessary.
Of course, we can all simply enjoying watching the superyachts that happen to be in harbour at the time of our visit.
That is at least free, and it is great to be able to get so close to them, as unlike in England, there are no security barriers to keep onlookers at a distance.
Ibiza had a difficult season this year with Thomas Cook’s demise. Whether the island’s mass tourist industry will recover next summer, or whether the shine has faded for too many remains to be seen.