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Charles Marlow’s business is split between sales and high-end holiday rentals. So, I’m relieved that Ibiza is opening up to tourism. But I also live permanently on the island and love seeing my home so clean, beautiful and tranquil. I’m hoping for a new balance.
In early May, I read an article on the Guardian website headed ‘It’s a tough island to live on’: why coronavirus spells doom for Ibiza.
The article was published in early May, when the major clubs were cancelling their summer seasons.
Even if the clubs do open in some way, the people who normally flock to them from all over Europe may well have neither the money nor the inclination to travel to Ibiza.
The big clubs own their premises so won’t have to pay rent. But if the likes of Pacha don’t open, it will be a tough summer for the local businesses, small bars, performers and self-employed workers who depend on them for a living.
As anyone who lives in Ibiza knows, heavy club-driven tourism hasn’t just generated vast amounts of money. It’s also put an enormous strain on Ibiza’s ecosystem – especially the coastal areas, all most visitors ever see. In the height of summer, it can feel like the island is just one enormous club, lit up and pulsing with music from end to end.
Ultimately, Ibiza faces the same dilemma as Mallorca. Both islands are overdependent on the tourism that has made them less and less pleasant places to live on or visit, if you’re not coming for a week or so of music, sun, sand and cheap booze. But, without tourism, what is there?
Living on Ibiza, I’m well aware of all the positive things the music industry and the legendary clubs have done for the island.
I love knowing some of the world’s best clubs are on my doorstep. I appreciate that Ibiza’s reputation for fifty shades of fun has brought wealth to the island and enabled all kinds of amazing restaurants, bars and shops to spring to life.
It’s truly sad that this summer is going to be very tough for businesses that depend on the clubbers and more upmarket visitors who have been coming to the island in growing numbers.
But, for many years now, Ibiza has been in danger of becoming a parody of itself – too expensive, catering only to the rich, promoting an out-of-touch VIP lifestyle and so on.
I don’t want to deny anyone the opportunity to come to Ibiza. But I think a few seasons with less people will go some way to finding a new balance.
Apart from the environment having a chance to breathe and recover, local businesses – including those that ‘do good’ for the island: the organic farmers, the enterprising startups and so on – will be more valued by local customers.
Ibiza’s own DJs and musicians will be given a chance to thrive and make their mark.
This was already starting to happen before the pandemic. The shift has accelerated in the past couple of months. I can only hope it gains even more momentum.
Most of all, as I look out my window at another glorious day in Ibiza I take heart from the fact that our stunning scenery and climate aren’t going to change.
It feels like a new day, like the real, truly magical Ibiza is about to rise again. I believe the island will find a new balance between its hedonistic, fun side and its astonishing natural beauty. Because together they are what makes Ibiza.
Written by Tim Stacey, Head of Sales and Rentals, Charles Marlow Ibiza. Tim has lived with his family in the beautiful north of Ibiza for the past five years.