Regular readers will know that I have some serious concern about Magaluf on the island of Majorca. My concerns are centred around the fact that it is evident from speaking with reps and with people who live there, that there is a culture of crime, irresponsible selling and indeed misselling, which is Industrial in its scale of operations!
So to give you an idea of Magaluf and its problems, young holidaymakers experience:
- Mugging Prostitutes;
- Doctored drinks which some bar/club owners think amusing;
- Young people being scammed by young women and taken to cash-tills where, because they are so intoxicated, find that they have withdrawn all their cash;
- Some clubs 'relieve' holidaymakers of their credit cards, again because they are so intoxicated, and greater amounts are taken from the cards (some action has been taken but we consider that this will reoccur again);
- Young holidaymakers are taken on pub crawls (paid for), where they are offered drinks that suggest that they have suspicious origins;
- Young people, often whilst intoxicated, are offered what they consider to be 'innocent' drugs, but are often much more toxic;
- Young holidaymakers have in the past been subject to sexual and public humiliation;
- Reps view the new arrivals as 'cash cows' and will wake the new arrivals in the middle of the night for an 'emergency', only to pass it off as a joke and then sell 'exclusive' nightlife tickets;
- Young Britons sometimes find themselves lost, subject to sexual assault, and in the worst cases we have heard, 'kidnapped' and dumped up to 30kms away from the resort;
- We are also aware that reps have 'favourite' health-centres and will refer these young holidaymakers to these private clinics and will receive a payment for the referral.
We understand the detail of this because we have examined Magaluf for some time and followed up our inquiry by visiting the island in October 2014.
But is it just Magaluf that is subject to this criminal and questionable commercial practices?
Obviously not, because there are many resorts around Europe that suggest to young people that they can enjoy a 2 week hedonistic lifestyle, and experience that they will not forget!
My critics point to the fact that young Brits are just simply out of control, maybe some are, but I say the vast majority are not. The majority find themselves in a unique situation, believing that they have acquired new 'friends' (think about how we as a society have changed when we talk about 'friends'), who are just there simply wishing to give them a good time!
Now consider the latest story we have received from an anxious parent who tells us of the experience of his son and friends who went on holiday to Kos. The fact that his son has related this story to his parents suggests that as a young person, they felt that they were not in control of the situation they were in; they told us that:
"On their first night there they were gently persuaded by their female Rep. to part with 250 Euros each....so that she could get them into the local clubs....? It appears to me as if this is a bit of a con by the reps. to make a bit of cash. I have complained and queried this with [MAJOR TOUR OPERATOR] who are basically passing the buck and saying that it was an events package. None of the boys were made aware of this by any party concerned until they were approached in there hotel rooms by the rep. I have asked [MAJOR TOUR OPERATOR] the following questions which they have yet to answer:
- If this so called events package is legal and above board why wasn’t it mentioned by the travel agents when the holiday was booked, they don’t seem to know much about it?
- Why isn’t it mentioned in any brochures?
- Why weren’t we advised or informed of this so called events package beforehand, no one was made aware of it until they were approached by the rep. at the hotel?
- Why isn’t there any mention of it on the various paperwork that I have relating to the holiday?
- Where is the receipt for the €250 that my son paid, why was he not given a receipt?
- Why were they told that they had to pay the rep to guarantee entry into the clubs?"
Do you see the pattern; how it starts?
Now consider how the Travel Industry look at this. One well-known commentator is Andy Cooper. I have a great deal of respect for Andy and he is by far one of the best advocates that this Industry has, but, we often agree to disagree on our respective positions.
In a recent article, he examined the situation in Magaluf and pondered whether the authorities have found the solution? Given the contact we are receiving, I think not. It was also interesting to read of how in the past, the Travel Industry have had meetings with local authorities and how each believed apparently that the other was to blame for their respective problems. Given the story we related about Kos, and indeed over time, Magaluf, it does appear that the Industry does have some accounting to do, however, so do local town halls for their ineffective enforcement and policing.
But, the one important point that most do not want to apparently talk about is the element of criminality within such resorts; where there is an opportunity, crime will find the way.
All the 'solutions' I have seen to date only play around at the edges; Europe needs to rediscover its moral compass after the financial crash and just simply say no to many of these practices and return holiday resorts to the real value offered in their heyday!
As this writer asks, "Has the rite of passage gone wrong?" Yes I say, but don't look entirely upon the holidaymaker to correct these difficult ills!