Mallorca restaurants bring in dress code to curb antisocial tourism

<span>Photograph: Enrique Calvo/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Enrique Calvo/Reuters

Eleven seaside restaurants on the Spanish island of Mallorca have introduced a dress code for patrons in an attempt to crack down on what they described as a recent wave of antisocial behaviour among drunk tourists.

In these restaurants, most of which are in the Playa de Palma, shirtless, costumed or football-jersey-clad punters will no longer be allowed, said Juan Miguel Ferrer of Palma Beach, a seal of quality created by local businesses to which the restaurants belong.

“What we’re trying to communicate, in some way, is the idea that to enter here you should go shower or change outfits,” he added. “You’re not going to come here in beach clothes or come straight from drinking in the streets.”

The move was prompted by the recent flood of tourists seemingly more interested in drinking than exploring the local gastronomy or the island’s charms, he said. “Since 10 May, we’ve been suffering the arrival of large groups of tourists who are only looking to get drunk in the streets, or on the seafront or even on the beach.”

He described the situation as worse than it had been in the years before the pandemic, calling it an “unfortunate reality”.

“They arrive at the hotels around 10am and by 2pm, they can’t even walk,” said Ferrer. “They are completely drunk and even their companions leave them lying on the sidewalk.”

Related: ‘Summer will be monstrous’: Barcelona wrestles with revival of mass tourism

A 2020 law that sought to clamp down on alcohol-fuelled tourism had so far made little difference, he said. Instead, he called for police to be granted the power to charge people on the spot for fines related to antisocial behaviour. “We need support from officials because neither entrepreneurs nor the neighbours can stop this,” said Ferrer.

A source in the regional government said that, due to the pandemic, this summer would be the first time the new law would be fully applied and that the government remained committed to combatting antisocial tourism.

The restaurant owners’ lament comes days after politicians in the region – which also includes the islands of Ibiza and Menorca – backed an initiative aimed at gradually reducing the number of tourist beds on offer. The Balearic islands currently counts 625,000 tourist beds – about one tourist spot for every two residents.

The government had proposed a mechanism to gradually reduce this number by eventually buying out places at one- and two-star hotels in the region. “We can no longer grow in quantity,” said Iago Negueruela, the regional official in charge of economy and tourism for the islands, as the law was approved.

While local media said the measure could see the number of tourist beds drop by 40,000, government sources said no concrete figures had been agreed on.

The aim is to reduce the number of visitors but do so in a way that protects an industry that accounts for about 45% of the region’s GDP and employs more than 200,000 people.

It is a possibility being mulled across Spain as the country seeks to strike a balance between one of its key industries and mounting complaints of noise, drunken disorder and residential flats being converted into tourist lets.

In the Balearic Islands, the resulting preference for high-income travellers has been criticised as narrow-minded. “It’s absurd,” said Juan Manuel Ordinas, the owner of two two-star hotels in Mallorca. “We’re up against a classist government that doesn’t want a British tourist who works as a waitress to come to Mallorca on vacation. Only those with money.”

He took issue with the assumption that quality tourism excludes tourists with lesser means. “They might not spend as much money but they don’t consume as many resources either. They not going to a five-star hotel with ten Jacuzzis, four golf courses and six buffets. They’re not arriving in a private jet,” he said.

“Instead they’re going to a small hotel with one shower for every three rooms, taking the bus or renting a bicycle and arriving via low cost-flights.”