By Chris King • 06 April 2023 • 23:57
Image of a stag party celebrating in Spain.
Credit: Evgeny Gubenko/Shutterstock.com
SPANISH party resorts waging war against boozy Brits have been warned their efforts are “backfiring spectacularly”- as demand for trips has since skyrocketed.
In what was dubbed the ‘Costa crackdown’, authorities in Malaga threatened rowdy British stags and hens with huge three-figure fines if they stripped naked or brandished a blow-up penis in public, while plans were even floated to install noise monitors in rooms. Tougher rules were introduced in Ibiza and Mallorca, with drinks limits imposed to try and curb drunken bad behaviour.
They have been part of a wider EU-wide crackdown, which came to prominence last week when stags and hens from the UK were urged to ‘stay away’ from Amsterdam as part of a major campaign launched by officials in the Dutch capital.
However, the boss of Britain’s leading stag and hen do provider said the only thing the “crusades” had succeeded in is making groups more determined to party in these destinations – with Brits seemingly undeterred by threats from the Spanish authorities.
“Our Amsterdam stag do bookings are up 50 per cent since that campaign launched last week, so clearly the message to ‘stay away’ isn’t getting through,” said Matt Mavir, Managing Director of stag and party provider ‘Last Night of Freedom‘.
And in the sunny Spanish party resort of Benalmadena, on the fringes of Malaga, the company reported that bookings have increased by an astonishing 200 per cent since the new rules – aimed largely at stags and hens – were publicised last June.
“In Magaluf, are bookings are up 60 per cent and it seems these rules are having absolutely no impact on people’s desire to party in Spain and the EU.
“In fact, these campaigns are backfiring spectacularly and the psychology behind that is obvious – if you tell people no, they just want it more.”
And the pattern isn’t just exclusive to the continent. Figures from the firm show it is being mirrored in both York and Edinburgh, which have both made headlines in recent months for opposition towards their booming stag and hen sectors.
In January, Edinburgh’s Old Town Association (EOTA) pleaded with politicians to discourage ‘nuisance’ tourism, with the organisation’s convener Eric Drake specifically singling out stags and hens as the biggest culprits. “Without wanting to sound snobbish, some types of tourists are better for the city,” he added.
However, since those comments, Matt said stag and hen bookings to Edinburgh have soared by almost 20 per cent year-on-year.
Comparatively, last October, York’s Labour MP Rachael Maskell unveiled her vision to keep revellers from mingling with locals by creating EU-style ‘party zones’ in the city. The much-maligned plans were likened to a ‘zoo’. However, according to Matt, bookings to York have since gone through the roof.
“Since she announced the plans, we have taken more bookings for York than Berlin and Budapest combined,” added the Tyneside-based businessman.
“If the plan was to make groups feel unwanted then it has failed miserably. York has instead grown into one of Europe’s most popular hen-do destinations, while after the initial backlash, any talk of these ‘party zones’ went quiet very quickly”.
In Amsterdam, officials are planning an even tougher crackdown. British tourists are being warned via a targeted online campaign that a ‘messy’ weekend could lead to a criminal conviction or a hefty fine if they are caught misbehaving.
Civic leaders are set to close bars earlier, ban public cannabis use and move the infamous Red-Light District away from the city centre. The campaign has made global headlines since it was unveiled last week, although it has also been met with wave of opposition. Sex workers are among those planning to formally protest the measures.
According to Matt, who has helped organise around 50,000 stag and hen weekends since launching the company in 1999, restrictions on sex and drugs will do little to deter groups – nor will the campaign itself.
“Stags and hens are not about paying for sex or getting stoned, and that’s never been the reason for our groups visiting Amsterdam. The focus is on bonding with friends over a drink and some activities in a city that’s welcoming and laid back,” he added.
“That makes Amsterdam’s decision – which somewhat shatters the city’s welcoming reputation – even more baffling. But ultimately, while you can make people know that they are not welcome, you can’t stop someone from visiting your city just because they are celebrating the fact they are about to get married”, he continued.
“So these campaigns – be it in Amsterdam, Spain or the UK – are ultimately counter-productive. What really matters to customers in the current economic climate is money”, Matt added.
“That’s why we are seeing unprecedented demand for budget-friendly Spanish resorts like Benidorm, and even though there are tough rules, that’s unlikely to put people off partying there”, he concluded.
Data for this article provided by ‘Last Night of Freedom‘ were taken from the Freedometer, which collates booking data from across the stag and hen sector each weekend, and from LNOF’s internal booking data.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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