The all-night party's over, say Ibiza's tourism officials

 

BALEARIC REBRANDING:IBIZA, ONCE NOTORIOUS as Spain's clubbing capital and a popular party island for thousands of young Irish holidaymakers, is attempting to overhaul its image.

Officials on the Balearic island are curbing after-hours parties and blocking permits for hotels below five-star standard, to lure a more prosperous and quieter class of customer.

Ibiza's head of tourism, Josefa Mari Ribas, said that Ibiza needs to be able to compete with new resorts and to rid itself of its long tradition of low-quality tourism. She has asked local lawmakers to consider banning all-night dance parties, where music fans often take ecstasy pills to stay awake.

A police crackdown on drugs last year led to the temporary closure of clubs such as Amnesia, Bora Bora and DC-10.

Some 4.8 million people passed through Ibiza's airport last year, mainly headed for budget apartments in towns such as Sant Antoni, on the island's west coast.

Ibiza's tourism figures have been almost flat since 2000. Last year an estimated 40,000 Irish visitors holidayed there. Aer Lingus is starting direct flights this summer.

Evidence that Ibiza is beginning to go upmarket is reflected in the fact that more private jets than commercial aircraft are landing at the island, which was visited last year by the film star Penélope Cruz and the hotel heiress Paris Hilton.

The UN has designated Ibiza a World Heritage site for its biodiversity and culture.

The Balearic government is contributing money to build a €45 million convention centre, to attract business visitors, and is negotiating with British Airways to introduce winter flights from Britain.

It is hoped that the development of a €30 million luxury spa resort, Aguas de Ibiza, will also help attract wealthy holidaymakers.