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Spain throws cold water on sex and booze resorts

AFP-JIJI

Wearing only underwear and angel wings, three young women wiggle their hips to entice customers to enter one of the many nightclubs in Magaluf, a Spanish beach resort notorious for its sex and booze excess.

“We came to get drunk, basically. Everyone knows Magaluf is partying big time,” said Bruce Stenning, an 18-year-old from London who came to the Mediterranean island of Majorca with five friends.

“I came for the strippers,” added one of his mates, James Pilkington, as he stood outside a bar on the Punta Ballena — the heart of the resort’s nightlife — which advertised in English “the best lap dance.”

Roughly 85 percent of the visitors to Magaluf come from Britain and Ireland, and little Spanish can be seen on bar flyers or billboards offering cheap drinks and theme parties.

Shops sell souvenir T-shirts with the catchphrase “On it ’till we vomit.”

But the local authorities — who would rather attract upmarket tourists — are calling time on Magaluf, with new rules to rein in the most dangerous and hedonistic antics.

The resort made headlines around the world last month after a video showing a young woman performing oral sex on several men on the dance floor of a nightclub went viral online.

Local media reported the nightclub was staging a contest that offered free drinks to women who performed the most fellatio in the least amount of time.

“My family were concerned about me coming here thinking that this was normal,” said Sorcha Rafferty, a 19-year-old from Belfast accompanied by 13 friends.

“Magaluf has got a reputation that people come on holiday here and have sex everywhere. And it’s true!” added her friend Bryony Spence, 20, at a bar offering the vodka cocktail “Sex on the Beach.”

Following the scandal, local authorities ordered the Playhouse nightclub where the sex-for-drinks game took place to be closed for a year.

They also slapped the nightclub and a firm that offers pub crawls, Carnage Magaluf, which organized the game, with a fine of €55,000 ($73,000).

Magaluf has many such firms, where a guide takes large groups of youths from bar to bar to enjoy unlimited drinks for a flat fee, and to take part in games that mix alcohol and eroticism.

Most are organized by British businessmen, and some of them respect the law and some do not, said Montserrat Jaen, the tourism director general of the regional government of the Balearic Islands.

The Balearic Islands are fighting to end this type of “low cost” tourism which is restricted to “a few very small, concrete areas,” she added.

Such resorts “are remnants and I think that in the long term they will convert” to the quality tourism that the Balearic Islands offer in many other places, she said.

Hundreds of meters away from the Punta Ballena strip and its rowdy bars, yachts bob gently in crystal clear waters.

Calvia, the municipality Magaluf belongs to, introduced a bylaw on July 25 to regulate pub crawls which sets limits on the number of participants.

Five days later the municipality closed another nightclub for breaking the limit on the number of clients, said Joan Feliu, who is in charge of bar licensing at Calvia city hall.

In a region that is dependent on tourism — the Balearic Islands received 13 million visitors in 2013 who spent €12 billion ($16 billion) — local authorities traditionally only fine companies and not tourists.

Another bylaw was recently introduced banning “balconing” — jumping from one apartment balcony to another or from a balcony down into a swimming pool.

By dawn tourists can be seen fighting in the streets, throwing up, passing out, and in the most serious of cases, being stretchered off to hospital.

Despite everything, Sorcha and Bryony plan to return next year.

“Of course!” they said in unison when asked if they would be back.