The British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, yesterday expressed his sadness regarding the fatal hotel falls this summer in Magalluf, which have claimed the lives of three Britons. He expressed his condolences to the families.
"It’s tragic. There have been a total of eleven incidents involving Britons. In a meeting with the president of the Balearics, Francina Armengol, the government delegate Rosario Sanchez, the minister for tourism Bel Busquets, and representatives from Calvia and Palma town halls we discussed at length and in-depth the challenges facing us all in trying to tackle the issue.
"The biggest hurdle we are facing is that these latest incidents have nothing to do with the fad of 'balconing' which we faced some years ago when young holidaymakers were deliberately jumping from balconies into swimming pools. We are now looking at very distinct incidents which need to be dealt with in a different way.
"Sadly, it would appear that the root to these incidents is the over-consumption of alcohol, and this is one of the areas the British and Balearic authorities intend to increase efforts in order to prevent further incidents in the short and long term.
"Those present at the meeting unanimously agreed that all the various authorities need to be involved. I thanked the president of the Balearics for the hard work her government and the local authorities have done over the years in caring for and looking after British residents and the four million British tourists who come to the Balearics every year, but sadly there are some issues which still need to be addressed and one of those is the consequences of the over-consumption of alcohol.
"I think we need to look into the matter of bars and clubs offering attractive deals which encourage young people to drink, special offers and happy hours for example, and also look into what the culture is in certain hotels which are popular with young people.
"The Balearics, and Majorca in particular, have always been a favourite destination for the British, with one generation after another coming to the island year after year for the best part of the past four to five decades. We obviously want that to continue. But what we want is for every Briton who comes here on holiday or to work the summer season to enjoy the island, have fun and return home safely.
"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has an annual social media campaign alerting young people to the dangers of the over-consumption of alcohol and other substances while encouraging people to respect the local laws and Majorcan society. We are doing what we can to promote good behaviour and sustainable tourism and always hand-in-hand with the local authorities. We intend to step up and continue these joint initiatives.
"What we must not do is make any rash judgments about events this summer, we need to be as proactive as possible."
Calvia town hall yesterday announced that it has fined three tourists because of "balconing". Anyone else involved in encouraging individuals to do so can also be fined, with tariffs ranging from 600 to 1,500 euros. The town hall also made it clear that the establishments or property owners will not be held responsible.
Having a huge passion for Majorca, the ambassador admitted that the slight downturn in the number of British tourists coming to Majorca this year is because of the tough competition coming from other traditional destinations which have had security and economic troubles to overcome such as Tunisia, Egypt, Greece and Turkey.
"It’s a tougher market than it was a few years ago and obviously Majorca has to adjust its approach to that, but Majorca has so much to offer throughout the year, cycling and hiking, for example, in the autumn and winter, not to mention its culture, gastronomy and beaches. It’s a paradise island for the British and always will be."