Spain is one of the most popular tourist destinations for young Europeans, with Mallorca and Ibiza, islands famous for their beaches and exciting night life, being especially popular. For this reason, three teams of researchers studied the link between the consumption of alcohol and other drugs and violent behaviour in recreational tourist areas there.
“Young people increase their consumption of alcohol and other drugs during the holidays – and violence rises in line with this,” Montse Juan, researcher at the European Institute of Studies of Prevention (IREFREA) and one of the study’s authors, told SINC. “Despite this, very few studies exist to inform us about this, particularly within the tourism context, where this predominates.”
The experts compared the violent behaviour of 3,003 British, German and Spanish tourists aged between 16 and 35 on the islands of Mallorca and Ibiza between 2007 and 2008. They used a methodology based on quantitative and qualitative techniques in order to better understand what aspects of night life are risk factors linked to drug consumption and violence.
The survey was carried out in the Ibiza and Palma de Mallorca airports, when the young people were returning to their cities of origin after their holidays. The results of this study suggest that 5% of visiting tourists are involved in some kind of violent act during their stay.
Among the respondents, 32.4% said they had witnessed violent episodes from time-to-time during their holiday, while 5.7% witnessed such incidents frequently. In 4.6% of cases, the tourists said they had seen violence every time they went out at night.
More than half of the participants said they had got drunk more than twice per week during their holidays (59.3% in Mallorca and 58% in Ibiza, with the level significantly lower, in both cases, among the Spanish visitors). Illegal drug consumption was greatest in Ibiza, and among British and Spanish tourists.
“Cocaine users were almost three times more likely to become involved in a fight than people who did not take it,” said Amador Calafat, the report’s other Spanish author. Similarly, he added: “Tourists who got drunk five or more days per week were 2.5 times more likely to get into a fight than those who didn’t drink during their holidays.”
The profile of a violent person
The main predictors of fights and acts of violence are “to be male, young (16 to 19-years-old), British, get drunk frequently and take cannabis or cocaine during the holidays”. The authors say ecstasy consumption during the holidays “curiously” had no connection to involvement in fights.
In terms of the levels of violence in international tourist destinations and the risk factors associated with holiday violence, the scientists stressed the need to develop prevention programmes and to design intervention strategies to prevent conflicts in the night life environment in these destinations, for the benefit of both tourists as well as the local population.
“Specific strategies should be created to prevent drug consumption and violent behaviour as part of recreational night life. Such programmes should promote healthier behaviour and attempt to reduce the spread of the culture of violence linked to recreation,” said the Spanish researchers.
SINC Team | alfa
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