Magaluf cracks down on boozy Brits with strict laws to tackle excess drinking
Holidaymakers hoping for a boozy break are 'not welcome' in Magaluf, with strict new laws in place to tackle excess drinking - Rebecca Barry reports
A group of topless British men drinking beer in the sunshine wolf-whistle, start chanting and then throw a t-shirt at me. Welcome to Magaluf.
While the notorious Majorcan resort has long attracted these kind of “boozy Brits”, they are no longer welcome here and the Spanish authorities are making that very clear.
We are out on patrol with the armed police officers tasked with enforcing strict new laws tackling excessive drinking. The legislation targets several resorts across the Balearic Islands: Magaluf and Playa de Palma in Mallorca and San Antonio in Ibiza.
In these areas, happy hours, 2-for-1 drinks deals, party boats and pub crawls are all now banned. While shops can no longer sell alcohol between 9.30pm and 8am.
One local police officer tells me British tourists come here and want to go "crazy", but he believes they should be more respectful.
And as night falls we see it for ourselves. By 2am on Magaluf’s notorious strip, the atmosphere is charged, groups of friends are crowding the streets, going from bar to bar. I see teenagers so drunk they can’t stand up.
Officers from both the local police force and the heavily armed Guardia Civil are regularly patrolling, on constant look-out.
We follow them as they receive a call to help a girl who has collapsed outside a nightclub.
Eventually, an ambulance is called and she’s taken away on a stretcher. It’s this dangerous debauchery that the authorities want to stop.
Tourism minister for the Balearic Islands, Iago Negueruela, says they "needed to act" on drunken behaviour from British tourists
The laws were passed just before the pandemic in 2020, so this is the first tourist season they’ve been put to the test. Several premises have already been shut down for breaking the rules.
The law also states that bars and clubs must not objectify or overly-sexualise women in an attempt attract customers. The regional government says it’s determined to curb excessive drinking and the degrading treatment of women.
One British woman, on holiday with her friends, tell me she feel much safer here now, compared to her last visit in 2018.
But a group 18-year-old men from Reading tell me they're disappointed that there's now a legal limit of six drinks a day at all-inclusive hotels.
"This is a party location," one boy tells me.
"The Spanish government need to accept that. These places will go out of business if you try to change the image of Magaluf."
But tourism minister for the Balearic Islands, Iago Negueruela, tells us they "needed to act".
"We are a showcase for international tourism. British tourism in Magaluf, that was not the sort of image we wanted our islands to give to the rest of the world. Our islands are not for that kind of tourism, we needed to eradicate that behaviour."
In the mountains above Magaluf, the deputy mayor, Natividad Francés, tells me it's not just for the sake of residents, but for the safety of the young tourists. When I ask her whether British tourists planning a boozy holiday are still welcome here, she answers emphatically "no!"
Natividad Francés says British tourists seeking a boozy holiday should look elsewhere as they are "not welcome" in Magaluf
In recent years, a few big hotel chains have invested millions of pounds in luxury hotels in Magaluf, now re-branded as Calvia. So it’s very much in their interest to attract a different type of tourist. Maria Cerda from Majorca’s Hotel Federation tells us it's about "quality" over quantity when it comes to British tourists.
"We want to receive British people who are focussed on the real Majorca," she says.
But some businesses that have relied on Magulaf’s party tourism for decades firmly disagree. Ander Carerra's family has owned their shop on the Magaluf strip for 30 years, but they’re no longer allowed to sell alcohol after 9.30pm.
Ander tells me he's worried about the future of his business because their takings are down by a half. “We have to do something" he tells me "otherwise we are going to die".
Meanwhile others think the authorities should go even further. Kevin Martin has DJ’d here since the 90s.
“The British are the worst at drinking. It's the best year ever for actually clamping down on illegal behaviour, but there's still a long way to go."
"Getting lairy is the whole point of coming to Spain" - young Brits on holiday say the rules will put people off coming to the party island
There's still a steady stream of people who hope Magaluf will always live up to its name. In the words of one teenage boy: "I think getting lairy is the whole point of coming to Spain.
"Why come to Spain if you're not going to get drunk. If they're going to change that image, so many people aren't going to come here and spend money on booze."
Magaluf’s brand of tourism has been established over decades, so any attempt to change it will inevitably take time. But a determined clean-up is underway, whether or not everyone’s “up for it”.