Tour operators bring in new rules to prevent balcony jumps, writes David Ing
UK tour operators have begun ordering Spanish hoteliers not to give their clients rooms with low guard rail balconies in the latest move to try and thwart the threat of youngsters trying to jump off them, usually into a swimming pool below.
Hoteliers say the move follows an increase in the number of claims for compensation from injuries or deaths, some of which are claimed to be accidents.
At the same time, health authorities and insurance companies are worried about the rising costs of treating patients from a practice that started around 2010 and has become widely known in Spanish as ‘balconing’. At least two operators, TUI and Jet2, are known to have told hotels not to accommodate their clients in rooms where the guard rail is low enough to be used as a ‘diving board’ or where there are gaps in the rails that can be used to climb up. A TUI spokesperson said that ‘client security is our main priority and that the company is ‘working very closely with hotels to guarantee that the balconies comply with the recommendations’.
One of the first hoteliers to comply with the new rules was the Binibeca resort on the south coast of Menorca in the Balearic Islands. Director Francisco Gene said there had been ‘a multitude of such accidents’ in the islands in recent years, especially at the popular young people’s resort of Magaluf on the neighbouring island of Mallorca. “From now on,” he said, “if someone insists on asking for a room with a balcony we will ask them to sign [a form] exonerating us from responsibility.”
Among the attempted claims made earlier this summer was one by a young British tourist who blamed spilled water near a hotel pool in Magaluf for him slipping over and injuring himself. He tried to claim €37,000 for medical bills for a broken shoulder bone and various ribs, but when the hotel passed the incident on to its insurance company the insurer found the jump attempt recorded in a video circulating on social media. It showed the young man trying to leap from his balcony on to the top of a nearby tree.