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Spain’s New All-Inclusive Rules

Greg Devine


Large Spanish flag next to palm trees with clear blue sky

Spain: a favourite destination for British tourists, but for how much longer? The country has announced that, in certain cities and districts, new, stronger rules are being introduced, concerning the consumption of alcohol in all-inclusive settings.

These new rules limit all-inclusive alcohol consumption to a daily maximum of six ‘free’ drinks—three at lunchtime and three more at dinner. Enjoying all-inclusive alcoholic beverages around the pool will no longer be an activity for fun-loving Brits.

These changes aren’t country-wide; currently, it’s just limited to the Balearic Islands—and even then, only in certain areas. Magaluf, El Arenal and Playa de Palma in Mallorca, and Sant Antoni in Ibiza, have seen the new rules come into play, which have encroached on more than just drinking practices. The advertising of boat parties is prohibited in certain areas. Pub crawls are also banned. I’m not entirely sure how officials plan to enforce a ban on pub crawls, but they warn that fines of up to £85,000 could be given out. Shops in these hotspots are also prevented from selling alcohol between the hours of 9.30pm and 8am.

The intention behind these changes to Spain legislation is to stop troublesome British tourists ruining other travellers’ holidays and disturbing the peace of those who call the islands their home. Sadly, it’s usually British tourists that cause issues. Every year, we’re inundated with unsavoury images in the media of Brits heavily intoxicated and causing damage. There’s hope from the Balearic Island Government, the UK Government and the travel association ABTA that the new rules will mean an improvement in the behaviour of British tourists, due to a reduction in the amount of alcohol they can consume.

Personally, I think it’s a great idea. Seeing images of drunk and obnoxious Brits abroad is embarrassing. I’m not saying they should ban alcohol completely; it would make no sense—the islands would lose too much revenue because holidaymakers will go elsewhere.

Young trendy friends toasting beer at chiringuito beach bar

Young trendy friends toasting beer at chiringuito beach bar

Don’t worry too much if you do want an all-inclusive alcohol experience. This isn’t a nation-wide ban. Mainland Spain doesn’t have these rules currently, and neither do the Canary Islands.

In October 2021 I had a brilliant holiday to Tenerife, with alcohol included on an all-inclusive basis. At no point did anyone in my party become too drunk. Maybe the fact we didn’t stay at a ‘party goers’ hotel’ played its part; our accommodation was a much more relaxed setting for adults to unwind. In these places, there’s no reason to bring in restrictive measures because people are already consuming alcohol responsibly.

That is, unfortunately, the issue. Some people—especially party-loving Brits—can’t be trusted to enjoy alcohol responsibly. Spain is quite a progressive place when it comes to drugs; cannabis is legal, for example. For them to feel the introduction of such strong measures is the only way forward really does imply that the issues are bigger than some may think.

Recently, some friends of mine returned from Magaluf. They said they weren’t aware of the new ban until they’d arrived there. They’d paid for all-inclusive with the intention of saving money on alcohol and were very disappointed when they realised this wasn’t going to happen. They also reported a ban on ‘happy hours’ in clubs and bars, to the point that alcohol almost felt like a taboo subject, what with the lack of advertising around parties and booze.

The new laws are here to stay, that’s for sure, but would they influence where you head to on holiday? Personally, I would choose to go elsewhere, as the full all-inclusive experience is half of the fun for me, but what do you think?

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