By Humphrey Carter
PALMA

THE President of national tourism body Exceltur and Vice-Chairman of the leading international Majorcan hotel chain Sol Melia, Sebastian Escarrer, yesterday called for a complete ban on drinking in the streets of Palma to bring an end to the hugely controversial weekend botellon street parties.

Escarrer, whose chain of hotels owns all of the four and five star establishments along Palma's Paseo Maritimo where 15'000 young people gather every weekend to drink and party into the early hours of the morning, said that the street parties “have become a social phenomena which is getting out of control.” He admitted that he would have liked to have seen Palma City Council to have taken a tougher stance when deciding on what measures to take to tackle the growing problem which sparked a mass protest of residents, hoteliers and business people last week.

Escarrer considers that botellon has become a very serious problem and that the time has come to prohibit the drinking of alcohol in public places, just like many other European countries and councils on mainland Spain have done.

He stressed that the sea front street parties have forced some of the hotels along the Paseo Maritimo to either postpone or cancel business conventions because of the awful image the parties and the mess left behind gives the city and the island, never mind the inconvenience of the noise for leading foreign business people. “The complaints and refunds are constant,” he said yesterday. “The street parties are having a tremendously negative affect on the hotel sector in the area,” he underlined. “From the point of view of the tourist industry, how are we supposed to convince clients that we have changed and try to attract high spending quality clients when the new image of Palma, one of Spain's most popular tourist destinations, is the street parties?” Escarrer, whose father Gabriel founded the global hotel chain considered one of the best in the world.

He said that he welcomes the new measures adopted by Palma City Council, providing they work, but he stressed the need for society as a whole to work together in trying to eradicate this new culture of young people getting drunk and taking drugs in the streets every weekend.

And, for that reason, Escarrer said that whatever steps Palma City Council take, such as banning under age drinking in the streets and large gatherings of people causing public disorder, must be supported by the local community.

The Mayor of Palma, Aina Calvo, said yesterday that the council is doing all it can in the best interests of the rights of residents to sleep and enjoy quality of life.

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