A British tourist staying at the five-star Gran Meliá Don Pepe hotel in Marbella, on the Costa del Sol, in Spain, fell from his balcony in the early hours of the morning on Saturday 11 July, landing upon and killing a local businessman who had been dining in the restaurant with his family below.
Local police reports suggest that the 49-year-old tourist had consumed alcohol at the time of his fall from the seventh-floor balcony. There is, as of yet, no evidence to suggest that this was a ‘balconing’ case – a phrased coined by locals to describe a fad, whereby a tourist attempts to jump from a balcony into a swimming pool below, or falls while jumping between balconies.
National police in Malaga, who are investigating the case, are working to determine whether the man jumped of fell by accident. “I can confirm two men have died at a hotel in Marbella after one plunged from the seventh floor and landed on top of another,” an officer said. “We are investigating.”
More recently in the Costa del Sol, on 27 July, it was reported that an Irish man in his 20s died after being hit by a car while on a night out with friends in the resort of Marabella in Spain. The Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.
In early January this year, the Balearic Islands government approved a Decree Law to combat alcohol excess in certain tourist areas. For some time, the areas of Magaluf in Majorca and San Antonio in Ibiza, for example, had become synonymous with boozy tourists, often resulting in alcohol-related accidents and crimes, as well as balconing tragedies and counts of sexual assault and rape. With the new decree in place, it was believed that incidents and risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption in these areas would decline – and fines were established to help ensure the success of the initiative.
It’s worth noting, however, that the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) stated the new decree was, in some ways, ‘misdirected’, targeting the wrong market with its six-drink daily limit placed on all-inclusive resorts, as the vast majority of holidaymakers there are couples and families.
Clearly, there are still issues present in the Spanish resorts, and it will likely take some time for certain resorts in Spain to change their image from boozy getaway destinations for European tourists. Furthermore, considering that alcohol consumption during lockdown has reportedly increased among certain demographics in the UK (alchoholchange.org) and bearing in mind the priorities of British culture, which saw pubs reopen before gyms after lockdown, you can see how this easily translates into potentially excessive drinking while abroad. Unfortunately for travel insurers, this also brings with it the increased risk of bad behaviour and poor decision-making among those who are happy to travel overseas now that restrictions are easing.