Irish tourists are among those “caught” by a “sneaky” new alcohol law in Spain affecting all-inclusive holidays.
Spanish authorities have sparked outrage by enforcing a ‘six drinks a day’ rule for all-inclusive holidays and at resorts on islands such as Ibiza and Mallorca.
The new law, which affects some hotels in the Balearic Islands, forces tourists to pay more if they want more than three free alcoholic drinks per meal.
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One man, who took an all-inclusive trip to Mallorca to celebrate his cousin’s birthday earlier this week, recounted how the rules left him “angry and upset”.
Jason Walker, 42, told Wales Online how he paid £240 (€285) for his three-night trip with tour operator Love Holiday, which he assumed entitled him to as much food and drink as he wanted.
But when the security officer arrived on the beautiful Mediterranean island, he was surprised to find that there were limits on his free alcohol consumption. Spanish authorities first announced the new law in January, but it has surprised hundreds of tourists who are now arriving on the islands.
Jason is urging tourists traveling to similar Spanish resorts during the summer to check their fine print or face skyrocketing drink costs without warning. He said: “We only found out when we checked in and only budgeted so much because we thought all of our food and drink would be covered.
“We were very upset and angry. We have come as a family of eight to celebrate my cousin’s 40th birthday and although we have still had a good time, we have incurred additional costs as a result.
Local authorities in Spain introduced an alcohol ban in January this year, which affects certain tourist areas in the Balearic Islands, including Palma, Ibiza and Magaluf. The new law, which states that “alcoholic drinks will be limited to six a day”, is part of a package of measures designed to crack down on antisocial behaviour.
These are also believed to include bans on pub crawls, happy hours and two-for-one drink deals, enforced with heavy fines. Jason, from Blackburn in Lancashire, said he understood the government is trying to stop thugs from drinking behaviour, but thinks the new rules need to be better publicized.
He said: “I understand that they are trying to stop alcohol abuse and loud behaviour, but I think this has been done very sneakily – I was not informed and I did not know about the law. We are also here as a family and all inclusive is great for families as you don’t have to worry about budgeting for food and drinks.”
Jason called on tour operators to provide tourists with more information on how their travels could be affected by the draconian laws. He also believes that holidays where there is a three-drink-per-meal rule are mislabeled and shouldn’t be labeled “all-inclusive.”
He said: “I’ve looked at the fine print and the alcohol rule is there so I don’t think it should be sold as an all-inclusive holiday, it should be sold as half board or anything like that. If you are booking an all-inclusive vacation, I recommend that you look at the fine print and see what is included and what is not because the rules have changed.”
Tourists writing on social media have reacted furiously to the new laws, which many feel have not been widely publicized. One Twitter user believed that inclusive holidays with alcohol limits should be marketed as “half board”, calling for hotel contracts to be broken where this was not clearly stated.
He said: “Tourists will now be restricted to just six drinks a day, which can only be accessed alongside their lunch and dinner, offering them just three drinks per meal. [That’s] It is usually called ‘Half Board Plus’. It is time to cancel all-inclusive hotel contracts.”
Ireland’s leading travel writer, Eoghan Corry, told the Irish Sunday Mirror that resorts had no choice due to growing drinking disorder.
He said: “It has been a rampant problem at all-inclusive resorts for many years. What has happened is that a small number come and try to get drunk.
“It tends not to be the cost that they look at, it’s the mess that can result.”
He added that some Irish tourists might be surprised by the rule, adding that all-inclusive deals could soon be a thing of the past.
“It should have been better marked, but you have to remember that it is at the cheaper end of the all-inclusive business where this is. It’s not really on the premium end. All inclusive is controversial anyway because the tourist boards don’t like it as it keeps people at the resort and doesn’t get them into the local hotels and bars.
“Certainly in Europe, all-inclusive is becoming less and less of a thing.”
Tour operator Thomas Cook recently alerted its customers to the crackdown on free booze via email.
They said: “Please note that the Balearic Government has issued a decree on a new restriction for the All Inclusive meal option. There is a maximum of six alcoholic drinks per person per day that can be served and these drinks will be provided only during lunch and dinner (3 each).
“Please note that Magalluf, El Arenal, Playa de Palma in Mallorca and Sant Antoni in Ibiza, there is a new restriction on All Inclusive.”
Love Holidays, which sold the all-inclusive vacation to Jason, has been contacted for comment.
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