Ibiza in Spain is one of the best-preserved medieval islands in Europe. The island is closest of all the Balearic Islands to mainland Spain and has a 200 km coastline. Although it has a reputation as a party island, there is much more to it than nightclubs. There are many small coves and over 50 beaches. One can view other Ibiza attractions, museums, events, festivals and travel. Ibiza has earned the title of "Clubbing Capital" of the world. The temperatures range from 20 degrees Celsius in May to around 27 in August. The population hovers around 110000 while the language spoken is Castilian Spanish. The currency accepted is the Euro. During the 1990's, tourism was boosted in the island when it earned the Guinness Record as the entertainment industry in the world. Since it has around 300 days of sunshine throughout the year, with the hot Mediterranean sun complemented by cool sea breezes, and fine golden sand with blue beaches, tourism is a way of life. The pace of life remains relaxed for the locals. (Ibiza Information)
The impact of this mass tourism can be seen in many areas. Tourism has grown to such an extent that the entire economic growth of Ibiza depends on this field. During the 60's tourism brought with it mass construction across the whole of the island. At that time, there was no urban plan for further development, as a result of which, there was serious environmental damage. There were construction of large hotel complexes, built in such a way that there was no regard to the culture and people of Ibiza, or the island's natural needs. Although legislative functions have been developed in the further years, the foundation had been laid and some damages already done. There were also some changes on the social level, both demographically and on urban life.
A new territorial model has been made that gives no importance to the traditional architecture of the island. After hotel complexes, there were apartment blocks to fill the growing demand thus having no clear integration. Thus, there was minimum planning and development. Although there have been some positive impacts, the negative effects outweigh them. Mass tourism has shown a least regard for local resources, due to its intensity in area and time, its attitude of having minimal cost of accommodation and services, and the tourists who are naturally attracted by this low cost. Environment sustainability and the economy of the island are affected. Over exploitation of natural resources has been done, both human and physical and there has been a sort of cultural degradation in the air. (Tourism and Environment on the Island of Ibiza)
To see the exploitation of natural resources, we should understand the nature of Ibiza. Conditions such as insularity, the space between the islands, and its moderate temperature with its own climate, rains in spring and autumn, and long dry summer periods have created a rich and varied countryside. The island abounds in exotic fauna such as the "sargantana" and fauna such as "ferreret," a small frog, apart from sea mammals and birds. There are natural ecosystems such as high mountain countryside and long beaches. All this is now in the danger of being eroded, lost forever and going extinct due to the imbalance created by mass tourism. Tourists are also partly to blame for this decadence. The personal tolerance that they have is restricted when compared to locals or when they arrive at Ibiza. (Tourism and Biodiversity)
Instead of driving cars, if they could adopt walking, cycling tours etc., they could contribute directly towards a positive influence rather than being the cause. Tourism is actually, a recent phenomenon on the island's ecosystems. The biggest concern has always been the variety and strength of its effects on the biodiversity of this small island. The sustainability of tourism depends largely on its ability to be host friendly and conversation minded. Yet, the fact is that tourist developers and managers look at landscapes and beaches as their selling point. It should also be pointed out that the tourism industry has transformed Ibiza from being caught up with the problems of poverty and emigration to riches and immigration. In the overall Balearic Archipelago, the resident population is close to 800000, and most economic as well as political events happen at Palma.
The parallel increase of tourism has boosted the economic structure of Ibiza. The per capita income of this island is now one of the highest in Spain, which is seen as one of the positive effects of tourism. Further, airports have been constructed which receive around 19.2 million passengers. A gross income of 5.5 million euros is generated from the tourism industry. These figures cannot be looked away from when the impact of tourism on Ibiza is being considered. There are also figures for negative impacts. There has been massive destruction of the coastline. The domestic refuse production is twice that of Spain's average. There are around 900 cars per 1000 people on the island creating additional traffic problems. (Tourism and Biodiversity)
Electrical consumption rose to 37% from 1993 onwards. These issues are bigger due to tourism. There is also a variation in unemployment since fraction of the hotel rooms remains unoccupied at 12% in December though it reaches 97% in August. Income is thus, unequally distributed. The natural heritage is also being endangered due to the enormous amount of human interference, and less protection to biological exoticness. Tourism has a devastating influence. Water pollution, soil erosion, degradation of underwater flora and fauna, and more landscape degradation are the key symptoms that have been exhibited. The tourist model is thus mass indiscrimination of the use of land, above Ibiza's capacity. The tourist industry is highly concentrated since it is seasonal, with its peak during the summer.
The mass tourism model that is present is totally unsustainable since it has not considered the importance of natural resources, or its rational use, has emphasized growth over quality, distributed the benefits of development unfairly, and has not included the surrounding areas which are equally favorable. (Tourism and Biodiversity) All this has resulted in various changes. From May 2002 there was an eco-tax levied on each tourist of the island. The extra money collected would be used to set right the negative effects of tourism. Many believe that the island is at a saturation point. Tourists need to be reduced. More people are putting pressure on the scarce resources available because of the low cost.
Let us also analyze the cultural impact for a moment. In Ibiza, there is a close link between drugs and clubs. There are not only drug risks, but sexual risks and these are not being overlooked or underestimated. This has been more because most tourists who are restricted in their home country due to legislations find Ibiza a safe haven. There are reduced social constraints for them, since when they come to Ibiza, the tourists tend to relax, act wild and lose their mental senses. They may buy drugs; have no access to emergency service, if needed. Ibiza, while it receives an influx of visitors each year, has to cope up with these social transformations. 44.2% of people who come to Ibiza are from England alone. Some of the largest nightclubs have around 10000 people at a time.
Phenomenal number of people abuse substances here. A survey conducted targeted around 1000 people who took drugs. This was compared to what people did at home, for example, in UK with what they did at Ibiza in a shorter period. The reason why they visited Ibiza was also noted. It was found that people who visited Ibiza once inevitable came there a second time for the obvious reason of drugs. The majority of the respondents to the survey were involved in tobacco, alcohol or drugs. The frequency of their usage increased when they came to the island when compared to their home country. 54% of the people had sex when they were on the island. With claims like "try sex in the surf, wake up in the wrong hotel, and drink duty free" Ibiza is also attracting the tourists in a wrong way. (Ibiza Uncovered)
The once idyllic island has been turned into a nightmare, dependant on foreign travelers for its income, and its cultural identity taken away by drugs, sex and a fighting persona. While the ruins and tourist spots remain, the impact of mass tourists has devalued them. They have become a market commodity rather than as a preserve. The biggest issue is not what the tourists give to the place, but what they take. Locals lose their freedom, their free will with photographs taken without their permission, and instead of promoting cultural values, and binding people through mutual respect, it is placing a westernized front that dominates the scene. What is needed from the tourists is conscientious partying, where people can have nice, clean fun.