Tour firms defend Ibiza's party animals

AS RECORD numbers of British holidaymakers head abroad for sunshine holidays, a light was shed yesterday on the seedy underside of one of the most popular destinations.

Michael Birkett, 51, British vice-consul on the Spanish island of Ibiza, has resigned his post in disgust at the alcohol and drug-fuelled antics of young British holidaymakers. He leaves today after condemning their degenerate behaviour for ruining Britain's reputation.

"Basically I am sick of the behaviour of some of the mainly young British tourists who come here, and of clearing up the mess they cause," he said.

An article in the island's newspaper, Diario de Ibiza, last week branded British holidaymakers "animals", but Mr Birkett had already handed his notice in by then. "Not all British tourists behave badly," he said. "There are a lot of families who come here and just enjoy themselves. But there are problems with the younger tourists."

Mr Birkett, formerly an accountant at the British embassy in Madrid, has been in Ibiza for 18 months where his duties included dealing with crime, drugs overdoses and accidents.

About 450,000 British holidaymakers a year visit Ibiza, and concerns about their behaviour centre on drunkenness, drug-taking and promiscuity.

A television documentary last year showed two women who claimed to have slept with 40 men during their fortnight's holiday. Police have expressed concern at the amount of drugs being imported for the booming club scene.

Tour operators yesterday rushed to defend their clients against the vice- consul's allegations. A spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents said there were always some people who got into trouble. "If you went into any police station in the UK on a Saturday night you would find people involved in problems. Those people go on holiday," she said.

The vice-consul would deal with a high percentage of those who cause problems by the nature of his job. But the Spanish quite like us there. They don't have to market Ibiza to the British."

Two-fifths of package holidays offered by British tour firms are sold to Spain, which is the number one destination for Britons, followed by France then Greece and Florida.

Millions of Britons visit Spain each year and Foreign Office statistics published in its last consular service report show that the country also holds the largest number of Britons in jail - about one-sixth of the 2,000 held worldwide.

A spokesman for Club 18-30, which has faced criticisms for encouraging bad behaviour, said: "A lot of things get exaggerated and sensationalised. Our view is that San Antonio [Ibiza's night-life capital] is little different to a number of holiday resort destinations around the world with a vibrant youth culture."

A Thomson Holidays spokeswoman said younger people liked Ibiza for the clubs, while families and older visitors enjoyed quieter parts of the island. She added: "We do try to encourage our customers to behave responsibly and carefully but there are instances of people letting themselves get out of control."

Trevor Phillips

Review, page 4

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent