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The Consolidation Stage of the Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) Model: The Case of Ibiza from 1977 to 2000

José Ramón-Cardona
1,* and
María Dolores Sánchez-Fernández
Ibiza Island Council University College of Tourism, University of the Balearic Islands, 07800 Ibiza, Spain
Department of Business, University of A Coruña, 15071 A Coruña, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Tour. Hosp. 2024, 5(1), 148-159;
Submission received: 15 December 2023 / Revised: 21 January 2024 / Accepted: 5 February 2024 / Published: 18 February 2024


Ibiza is an island in the Western Mediterranean internationally known as a sun and beach tourist destination, and it is notable for its nightclubs. This fact is the result of a century of tourist history that began in the first third of the 20th century and reached its maximum data at the end of that century and the beginning of the 21st century. Using the tourism area life cycle (TALC) model as a reference, it is possible to affirm that Ibiza has already gone through most of the stages proposed by the TALC. The objective of this work is to undertake a historical approach to the events and context that this island experienced during the period that could be considered to be a consolidation stage (1977 to 2000), which is still little analyzed. During this period, demand growth continued, although at a slower pace than in the previous stages, and suffered the first major crisis. The regional administration had to face the errors of the previous decades with various legal actions as follows: the limitation of the accommodation supply, which was already oversized by that stage; the environmental protection of spaces that had not yet been affected by urban development; the modernization of the offerings, much of them being obsolete and degraded; and the diversification of the issuing markets, which had until then been focused on Germany and the United Kingdom. The economic crisis of the early 1990s was a turning point for the tourism sector, both in terms of administrations and companies, and quantitative growth was replaced by qualitative growth in the following years. Starting in 2000, tourism in Ibiza entered a new phase characterized by the modernization of the offerings and the stagnation of data.

1. Introduction

Ibiza is an island in the Western Mediterranean with an area of 570 km2 [1], and it has been famous as a tourist destination since the 1960s and 1970s [2]. From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, the island experienced rapid growth in the tourism sector [3], which had a large impact on the media [2,3]. However, at the end of the 1970s, environmental groups, protests requesting the cessation of environmental deterioration and groups that were critical of the consequences of tourism appeared, with the island entering a new stage in its social and tourist development that sought to consolidate growth and correct the mistakes of previous decades [2,4]. This new stage would extend from the end of the 1970s (approximately 1977, with the end of the effects of the oil crisis) until the year 2000, when the maximum data are reached before stagnation is experienced over the following years [4]. During these years, several very important changes occurred in the island’s tourism sector as follows: a very important increase in social concern about the negative impacts of tourism took place, thereby causing the implementation of various regulations that sought to limit and improve tourist offerings; the crisis of the early 1990s forced a rethinking of tourism marketing, with local companies and administrations taking control and the initiative in promotion and distribution, which had been until then delegated to foreign tour operators; and tourist seasonality worsened as the season shortened, and reducing this problem became an obsession [2,4]. The final stages of the evolution of tourist destinations are little analyzed through historiographical approaches because they are located very close to the present, but it is important to analyze the cases of destinations in various stages of maturity to learn how to better manage destination maturity challenges, especially those that are linked to overcrowding, the obsolescence of infrastructure and the deterioration of the favorable attitudes of residents. The aim of this article is to review the changes and challenges faced by one of the most internationally famous tourist destinations, the island of Ibiza, during the consolidation phase [4] and to extract ideas for the management of destinations that have entered maturity stages or will soon enter them.
To put the analyzed stage in context, the first thing is to give some demographic overviews of the period and the changes that occurred. According to data from the INE [5] referring to population censuses, there were 59,933 inhabitants in 1981 and 88,076 inhabitants in 2001, thereby resulting in a total amount of growth of 46.96%. In this period, the municipality of Sant Josep was the one that had the highest growth (111.27%), while the rest of the municipalities grew more moderately. During this stage, there was also a small amount of growth in the population of Sant Joan, breaking the negative trend of previous decades. It should be noted that the population has continued to increase, and as of 1 January 2022, there were 154,210 people registered on the island of Ibiza [1]. These data give an indication of the importance of the changes that occurred during those years on the island and also of the social changes that have occurred over the twenty years since.
Tourist destinations go through various stages throughout their evolution [6,7,8], but Ibizan historians normally focus on the first stages of tourism development, which are generally located in the 19th and early 20th centuries (e.g., [9,10,11,12,13,14]). This preference is due to various factors as follows: a curiosity and longing for the local pre-tourist society; a greater interest in the knowledge of times that are very different from the current one and that no longer have direct testimonies; and the fear of the challenges involved in the analysis of historical periods that are still very close in time and subject to social debate even today. The objective of this paper is to show the most significant elements of the consolidation stage of Ibiza as a tourist destination, which occurred during the 1980s and 1990s [4] as follows: social changes, especially in the attitudes of residents; economic changes, especially in tourism data; and changes in tourist offerings, especially nightclubs, hotel modernizations and the strengthening of the marketing actions adopted from the island. The interest in analyzing this period is due to the challenges that the tourist destination faced in this phase and the scarcity of studies with a historical focus on the final decades of the 20th century (e.g., [2,15]). Furthermore, given the importance of the tourist destination analyzed and the changes in the international image that it experienced in the first years of the 21st century [16,17], it is an example of how the management of a destination changed from the tourism boom of the 1960s and 1970s [3] to the international fame experienced at the beginning of the 21st century [16,17,18] without falling into a state of decline.
Of the various stages of the tourism area life cycle model [6,7,8] that tourism development in Ibiza has gone through [4], the consolidation stage is characterized by a lower percentage of growth in tourism and by an increase in concern among residents about quality of offerings, environmental protection and tourism development planning. The quantitative concern of the growth stage [3] has been replaced by the qualitative concern, although the inertia of the past makes this change difficult, with this being the main conclusion of the article.

2. Literature Review

The historiographic analysis of tourism in Ibiza [4], especially that of the stage of stagnation that is analyzed in this article, adopts the tourism area life cycle (TALC) model as a theoretical reference, which takes as its starting point the consideration that the tourist destination, when understood as a global product, experiences a life cycle that is similar to the product life cycle of conventional consumer goods [19]. The TALC model was introduced by Butler in 1980 [6,7,8], but several previous authors had already outlined similar ideas [20]. Both in Butler’s model and in previous papers, tourism development is considered to be a process that evolves through several stages, from an initial situation of almost no tourism to the maximum number of tourists and a process of degradation of the tourism sector and various elements of the social and natural environment. In some previous works, the process was divided into only three stages, but Butler [6,7,8] identified six stages: exploration (beginnings of tourism), involvement (population focused on tourism), development (period of fastest growth), consolidation (large numbers and reduced growth), stagnation (quantitative growth stops) and decline or rejuvenation. The TALC has been a very popular theoretical model over the last forty years; although it has received criticism because it does not fit well in some cases, it is visual and intuitive for use as a theoretical reference in the historical study of the evolution of tourist destinations [6,7,8].
Studies on local issues have been scarce in Ibiza until recently, and economic analyses are no exception. In this regard, Ibiza is in a worse situation than nearby regions such as Mallorca, Menorca or Valencia. The economic history of Ibiza appears only in the studies of Joan Carles Cirer Costa, which are compilations of data series and their basic interpretation (e.g., [21]), very brief approaches to the economic evolution of the 19th century and the 20th century and, in some cases, studies focused on Mallorca or other regions that mention Ibiza in passing (e.g., [22]). In these papers, the author focuses on the economic development generated by the increase in exports of primary sector products (agriculture, livestock, fish, etc.), and how this changed the local society. Cirer analyzes the first fifty years of the 20th century, whether he focuses on Mallorca [22] or Ibiza [9,10,11]. This author holds that the tourism development of the 1930s was possible thanks to the social transformations that the commercial development of the previous decades had allowed and the existence of a solid business environment at the level of the most advanced regions [9,10,11]. Between the vision of a backward and primitive island in the texts of visitors of that time [12] and the business pole proposed by Cirer [9,10,11], it seems that the most reasonable thing is a middle point, where, in a traditional agricultural society, capital begins to accumulate, and the first entrepreneurs appear with skill and vision at the level of their counterparts in other regions of Spain [14]. From the second half of the 20th century, there are only some analyses of data series [21] or the overall situation of the sector [3]. Ernesto Ramón Fajarnés published a review of tourism history in Ibiza and Formentera between 1900 and 2000 [23] from the perspective of those who lived and worked in the sector during the second half of the 20th century. The work of Ernesto Ramón [23] was an important starting point for the structuring of the history of tourism in Ibiza and has special importance for the analysis of the second half of the 20th century because it is a first-hand source; thus, it is without the biases that the interpretation of documentation can generate. This work has been republished and extended to cover the period up to 2020 [2], making it the first analysis of the history of tourism in Ibiza from the first years of the 21st century.
Specifically, a review of this literature and other documentary sources has been carried out to form a more complete vision of the evolution of tourism, dividing the historical evolution of Ibiza into the stages of TALC [4] and delving into the analysis of the first historical stages, combining numerical evolution, notable facts and main residents’ attitudes (e.g., [15]). As to the stages through which Ibiza’s tourist development has already passed [4], the exploration stage would be the 1930s, just before the Spanish Civil War. In those years, the first tourists arrived, and the first offerings focused on tourism were developed, but the numbers were very modest [14]. In the 1940s and, especially, the 1950s, the involvement stage occurred, initiating the definitive development of the tourism sector and significantly increasing the involvement of the local population in the tourism sector, something that had involved only a minority until then [13]. In the 1960s, a tourism boom occurred and important economic, social and environmental changes appeared [3]. This development stage lasted well into the 1970s [2,4]. The development of the 1950s–1970s was based on high involvement, effort and the will to prosper, but the training of workers and entrepreneurs was insufficient [13]. The rapid growth, combined with a lack of knowledge and experience, caused a whole set of economic, social and environmental problems that had to be faced in the following decades [2,4]. However, the last decades of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st are poorly covered (e.g., [2,15]), so generating data on this still poorly analyzed period is the aim of this article.

3. Methodology

The methodology used combines the methods of historiographic studies [24,25] with the methods of a case study [26], with the purpose of analyzing a recent period in history—in this case, the consolidation stage of a typical Mediterranean sun and beach tourist destination, Ibiza. Those years have not been researched as much as the periods immediately preceding them. Furthermore, temporal proximity to the present situation means that many discussions remain topical, and, therefore, the opinions expressed are not as neutral as greater temporal distance would allow. For this study, academic literature, official databases, local press and legislation have been consulted. Based on the analysis of these sources of information, the tourism evolution on the island was structured as follows—evolution during the 1980s; evolution during the 1990s; nightlife, clubs and media impact; measures adopted by the regional administration (Balearic Government); and residents’ attitudes—and the most notable and important elements of each stage were determined. That is, the consolidation stage is divided into two subperiods, and the three most notable aspects are chosen.
The existing literature is the books and articles on the economy, history and tourism of Ibiza mentioned in Section 2 (e.g., [2,4,15,16,17,21,23]). The articles are available in Internet repositories, and the books are in the various municipal libraries on the island, although many of the books are in the possession of the authors. This literature was useful as a starting point but insufficient to complete the analysis of the period under consideration. For this reason, consulting databases and the local press was essential. Among the official databases, it is worth mentioning the population censuses of the Spanish National Institute of Statistics [5] and publications of the Statistics Institute of the Balearic Islands [1]. Ibestat [1] allowed us to consult data from the last forty years through its website: legal tourism offerings (accommodation establishments, mainly), number of passengers passing through the airport and port and estimates of the number of tourists arriving (only in the most recent years), among other demographic and economic parameters. For some data, it was necessary to consult the original source, such as censuses, which are available from the INE website [5]. Both databases allowed us to review the quantitative evolution of tourism supply, tourism demand and the resident population, among other parameters, during the years analyzed (1977–2000) and later. The main reference for the local press is the Diario de Ibiza, because it is the oldest newspaper on the island (created in 1893) and has a very extensive newspaper archive [27]. A library of the various local newspapers has been accessible on the newspaper’s own website since the 1990s, facilitating the search for news, interviews and reports about the period analyzed and its consequences. In addition to these sources, a complementary source has been personal communication with some people on the island, with the aim of clarifying aspects that were still confusing based on the previously mentioned sources.

4. Consolidation Stage

The consolidation stage involved three different time periods, taking into consideration the evolution of tourist arrivals: the period from 1977 to 1988 was characterized by significant growth and concern about negative impacts; the period from 1989 to 1992 included years of serious economic crisis and repurposing of the sector; and the period from 1993 to 2000 recovered the growth in tourist arrivals, reaching a maximum in 2000. However, the following subsections will focus on the situation before and after the economic crisis and then discuss three key aspects that are necessary to understanding this stage: nightlife and nightclubs, regional regulations and residents’ attitudes.

4.1. The 1980s

In the 1980s, consolidation of the industry was achieved and, with the heyday of nightclubs, the last element of Ibiza’s image was incorporated [2]. The number of hotels in 1980 was 328, with a capacity of 40,450 beds; accommodation in apartments and campsites totaled 39,347 places; restaurants, numbering 428, had a capacity of 25,836 seats; the cafeterias totaled 278, and the bars 941 [2,15]. The deficiencies in tourism growth in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the lack of professionalism, the absence of specific regulations for the sector and the relaxation produced by sure profits led to a loss of offering quality [4]. This was the cause of a series of subsequent problems, such as a downward pricing policy by tour operators and a negative image abroad [2,15]. The haste and lack of preparation during the tourism boom generated a problem that had to be faced from the 1980s onwards, especially in areas such as Sant Antoni and Figueretes [2,4].
A disproportionate growth in supply and inflation much higher than that of the issuing countries, as well as a national currency with a high exchange rate, resulted in lower contracting prices. Furthermore, business owners had not managed to adequately reinvest their profits in improving establishments, a necessary action to maintain the island’s position in the sector [2,15]. In many cases, amortizations were confused with profits, and businesspeople spent capital that should have been used to pay for improvements and renovations on personal whims (deficiencies are still detected today in this aspect of tourism management). This problem was not fully resolved in later decades; hence, in more recent times, many family hotels have been sold to large hotel chains due to the financial inability of their owners to make the necessary renovations [27].
All of this forced many hoteliers to make deals with tour operators specializing in trips for young people, who were attracted by Ibiza’s reputation for permissiveness. The hotels aimed at this type of client were mainly those that were degraded, of low category, or that were difficult to market to other clients [2,4,27]. An added problem was that, after contracting with this type of tourism, they ended up condemned to continuing with it for the future. This happened in abundance in Sant Antoni and in some places in Platja d’en Bossa and Figueretes [27].
The most unsustainable situation occurred in the urban area of Sant Antoni, especially in the West End (the area of pubs and bars in the center of the town). The congregation, in a small space, of thousands of young British people who based their fun on alcohol caused continuous disturbances, attacks, destruction of street furniture and private property, scandalous scenes and all kinds of excess. The successive ordinances issued by the town hall and the meetings with representatives of wholesalers and bar companies to try to impose a minimum set of rules that would allow for coexistence did not always produce the desired results. Currently, the West End of Sant Antoni (Ibiza) and Magaluf in Calvià (Mallorca) are the best-known examples in Spain of destinations dominated by conflictive young British tourists [28].
Another problem in the 1980s was overbooking, a common term in the sector and the media of those years. Some business owners, to ensure full occupancy of their hotels, contracted their places with several tour operators at the same time. In this way, if one contingent of tourists failed, those places would not be empty because tourists from the other contracted operator would arrive. However, this practice gave rise to numerous disruptions and a poor image of the service, since there were many cases in which both groups of contracted clients showed up at the hotel and one (the one that came second) found the places occupied. In this way, the hotelier diverted that contingent to another establishment, which was not always satisfactory; criticism occurred frequently. Starting in the 1990s, measures were taken to reduce this practice and its negative effects. Through regulations and raising awareness among hoteliers, it was possible to reduce the frequency of these practices throughout the 1990s, reducing the poor reputation that this practice generated among tourists.
Regarding tourists’ nationalities, it is worth mentioning the predominance of English and Germans. For example, in Ibiza, hotel occupancy in 1980 was 37% British and 29% German [2,15]. This is characteristic of the Balearic Islands as a whole and creates a strong economic dependence on these two countries. Currently, German tourism represents less than 10% of the total in Ibiza, with other markets, such as the Spanish, Italian and Dutch, being more important. Regarding the tourist influx, it can be summarized as a moderate but continuous growth from 1980 to 1984, a decrease in 1985, a strong rise in 1986 (18.2%) and 1987 (16.1%), moderate growth in 1988 (1.5%) and, from then on, an entry into recession, with significant and continued declines (−7% in 1989 and −14% in 1990) that lasted until the middle of the next decade [2,23].
The recession that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s can be attributed to a set of diverse factors [2,15,27]: political, economic and sociocultural changes in Spain and Ibiza; changes in the type of tourists and their behaviors (due to social and cultural changes in the countries of origin that produced changes in the tourism preferences of their inhabitants); the excess and degradation of the offerings; and all of this being aggravated by international situations. The lack of long-term planning in previous years—locally, regionally, nationally and internationally—caused serious negative economic effects. The crisis did have a positive effect, however, in that it stimulated political leaders and entrepreneurs to seek solutions to problems generated in the 1950s to 1970s.

4.2. The 1990s

The 1990s were characterized by a poor economic situation at the start, the process of modernization and collective reflection on a future path. This period coincided precisely with a crisis when many regulations appeared, aimed at converting establishments to adapt them to new demands, and when environmental awareness began to be reflected in concrete measures. The recession was very serious and affected all sectors of society. Ernesto Ramón comments that:
“Even the population decreased perceptibly, due to the massive departure of immigrants who left the island after losing their jobs. […] According to some statistics cited by the island newspapers of the time, the number of people who in 1992 would have left the Pitiüsas [Ibiza and Formentera] could rise to 5000” [23] (pp. 179–182).
Political leaders pointed to an excess in supply as one of the main causes for the situation. The regional government and hoteliers noted that, at the beginning of 1989, there was an excess of 20,000 beds in Ibiza and Formentera. The Tourism Department of the Balearic Government maintained that the existence of these hotel beds favored a reduction in prices, which made it impossible to improve tourism services and quality [2,4,15,27]. The problem of excess supply was further complicated because a significant percentage of the existing lodging beds were illegal and, consequently, uncontrollable by administrations.
Another long-standing problem was the existence of a tourist distribution model based on a strong dependence on wholesalers, mainly British and German tour operators. Ernesto Ramón indicated that:
“The hoteliers of Ibiza and Formentera were in the hands of the tour operators, because with their business strategies they ended up deciding not only the type of clientele of the hotel, but also the prices, and they were almost always of lower quality” [23] (p. 187).
Starting in the 1990s, the Balearic Government saw that it was necessary to take control of the distribution channel, seeking clients through other means than tour operators. It was not until the end of the decade, with the appearance of the Internet and low-cost airlines, that carrying out more direct distribution and reducing the weight of tour operators became feasible. However, the change was not visible until the beginning of the 21st century due to the slow adoption of new technologies in travel purchasing. In the second half of the 20th century, tourist packages of one or two weeks predominated, managed by large tour operators, with charter flights and hotels included. In the new century, stays of a few days are common, traveling on low-cost companies and with direct hiring [1,2,4,27].
Starting in 1994, there was a progressive recovery documented in the tourist influx data. In 1994, the number of international arrivals at Ibiza airport was once again comparable to that recorded in 1987 (1,101,700 in 1987 and 1,189,100 in 1994). However, the number of tourists arriving by plane, if national arrivals are added, reached 2,092,000 people. The growth in the number of arrivals was constant, reaching its peak in 2000. In the second half of the 1990s (taking 1998 as a reference), the British made up almost 44% of all visitors, followed by Germans (24%). The rest was distributed between Spaniards (9%), Italians (7%) and the French (5%), with the other markets being quite residual [2,4,15].
At the end of the 1990s, there was a construction boom that caused a situation that had not occurred for years: labor was scarce, and it was necessary to look for workers outside the island, both on the Iberian Peninsula and abroad. This construction boom focused on residential housing construction. However, what did not grow appreciably was the number of lodging beds. After the reduction caused by the crisis of the early 1990s, the accommodation capacity increased slowly; between 1993 and 2000, the accumulated annual growth did not reach 1%. At the end of the 20th century, there were 322 hotel establishments with more than 57,000 beds, 349 apartment blocks with 28,000 beds, and 733 tourist vacation homes and other accommodation systems that exceeded 8,000 beds [15,23].
Since 1996, new construction has been scarce, but drastic remodeling and improvement works have affected most of the hotel industry, in many cases implying an increase in the hotel’s ranking [1,4]. It should be mentioned that these reforms and improvements were necessary due to the obsolescence of the lodgings opened in the 1960s and 1970s [2,4,15,27]. During the 1990s, these reforms were more modest (mainly modernization that allowed the hotel’s ranking to be maintained or raised slightly), but from the new century onwards, more important and radical reforms took place (for example, transforming three-star hotels into five-star hotels). Regional regulations created a maximum limit on tourist places, and, since the late 1990s, lodging beds in Ibiza have ranged between 77,000 and 80,500 [1], the variations being due to temporary closures for renovations and modernization.
The main objectives of the local administration at the turn of the century were reduced seasonality and the promotion of cultural and nature tourism [2,27] to achieve more sustainable tourism with greater added value. The attempt to reduce seasonality is as old as the tourism sector: in the 1930s, it was already a topic of debate [2], but the problem was not corrected and worsened over the years. Regarding cultural and nature tourism, the creation of agrotourism and rural hotels has made it possible to establish a high-level supply for lovers of natural spaces [29]. The fact that in 1999 UNESCO inscribed “Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture” on the World Heritage List should have favored the development of cultural tourism in Ibiza, but few changes have been observed [30].

4.3. Nightclubs and Clubbers

There were already establishments that were precursors to nightclubs in Ibiza at the end of the 1950s [2,4,15], but nightclubs as we know them today appeared in the 1970s [2,4]. In the 1980s, there was an increase in the number and size of this type of venue. Nightclubs such as Pacha, Angel’s, Playboy, Amnesia and Ku constituted important tourist attractions [2,4]. Among these nightclubs, Ku, in Sant Rafel, stood out as a symbol of Ibiza’s nightlife because it was the largest and was very well located [2,4,27]. In the 1980s, Ku was considered by some to be the best nightclub in the world. Faruk Gandji said, in reference to Ku, “nightclubs around the world tried to reproduce what was happening here, but it could not be repeated” [31]. The rise of nightclubs was so great that the regional administration referred to it in tourism promotion [2,4].
Between the 1980s and the first decade of the new century, the island’s large nightclubs attracted a subset of young tourists called “clubbers” [2,27]. Among the local population, this type of tourist has always generated opposing opinions [32]. At the beginning of the 1990s, the obligation to roof venues that until then were open air forced temporary closures of the most important nightclubs: Ku, Es Paradís, Amnesia, etc.
The image of Ibiza was closely related to partying and the negative impacts of nightlife at the end of the 1980s, and local administrations tried to redirect the tourist image in the 1990s so as not to scare away tourist markets that were of interest [2,15]. By the year 2000, there were seven clubs that represented Ibiza’s nightlife internationally: Amnesia, Privilege, Edén, Es Paradís, El Divino, Pachá and Space [2,4,27].

4.4. Measures and Actions of Regional Administrations

The Autonomous Community of the Balearic Islands assumed tourism competencies in November 1983. The main initiatives adopted by the Balearic Government with regard to these new tourism competencies were: the Extraordinary Investment Plan for Infrastructure Improvements in Tourist Areas; Law 7/1988 on Transitory Measures for the Planning of Hotel Establishments and Tourist Accommodations; the Tourism Marketing Plan; Law 3/90, creating the Hotel Modernization Plan; the Law regarding Natural Spaces, approved in January 1991; the Tourism Supply Management Plan for Ibiza and Formentera, approved in 1997; Law 2/99 General on Tourism of the Balearic Islands; and Law 6/99 on Territorial Planning Guidelines [2,27]. Due to the economic crisis of the early 1990s and the complexity of some of the approved regulations, their application occurred gradually throughout the 1990s.
The main aim of the regional administration was to limit the supply of tourist offerings, considered excessive, and improve their quality. In mid-1989, both the Tourism Department of the Balearic Government and hoteliers themselves admitted that there were about 50,000 lodging beds left in the Autonomous Community, of which about 20,000 belonged to Ibiza and Formentera [2,4,15]. The existence of this surplus of lodging beds forced prices down. However, there was still significant construction pressure for new establishments; this was stopped on January 1, by Law 7/1988 on Transitory Measures for the Planning of Hotel Establishments and Tourist Accommodations.
Another key objective of the regional administration, since the late 1980s, was the reconversion of hotel stock. This reconversion began in the 1990s, thanks to incentives from the Balearic Government, but there were no major changes until the beginning of the 21st century. In general, regional regulations served to bring some order and force minimal improvements to be made that would stop the degradation of some tourist areas. The major hotel renovations of the early 21st century occurred mostly on the initiative of the hoteliers themselves.
In general, the legislation ordered and restricted tourism growth. The result is that, at the beginning of the 21st century, the evolution of tourism was based on demolishing obsolete establishments and building new establishments in their place or rehabilitating existing ones. The problems that the sector faced in this stage of the TALC made entrepreneurs and administrations aware of exchanging quantitative growth for qualitative growth, as represented by these reforms.

4.5. Residents’ Attitudes

In the 1980s, protests arose against overcrowding, the degradation of supply, environmental damage, the deterioration of the island’s image, etc. Criticism of the negative impacts gained importance thanks to various cultural and environmental entities that appeared in the late 1970s. Despite this, urbanization continued at a rapid pace during the 1980s, and areas that at the beginning of the decade had been practically deserted were conurbations by the end of the decade. Examples of this can be seen on various beaches in the municipality of Sant Josep, such as Cala Tarida.
In the early 1980s, organized environmentalism and regionalism appeared and sought to preserve local culture. Environmental concerns had already been expressed in the form of protests at the end of the previous decade, but it was in 1982 that this movement formally began with the foundation of the Grup d’Estudis de la Natura (GEN), the main environmental group in Ibiza and Formentera. The expansion of tourist infrastructure became overwhelming for an increasingly large part of island society. Many people held that tourism development had already reached, or was reaching, its limits. Environmentalists did not reject tourism; in fact, they argued that it was necessary to preserve the environment to preserve tourism by uniting two complementary concepts: ecological protection and quality tourism.
At this time, two opposing positions were consolidated within local society: those who defended the need for tourism development based on pragmatism, since there is no other economic alternative for the island; and those who believed that tourism had reached its limit and continuing to grow would generate more negative impacts than positive ones.
In the 1990s, regional regulations and the change in mentality of many entrepreneurs moderated supply growth, and there was a control that did not exist in previous decades. These changes were perceived by residents and even by regular visitors. Although at the end of the 1990s there began to be control over tourist offerings, the image of Ibiza as a permissive destination—in terms of continuous partying and being frequented by artists, entertainers and homosexuals—and a sex paradise [3,16,18] was beyond the control of the residents [2,4,15]. Rejection of this image was rife among the local population, combined with helplessness about not knowing how to change it. In relation to the image of the island, so far in the 21st century, only the concepts of glamor and expensive tourism have been added, with the elements of permissiveness and partying being maintained.
At the end of the 20th century, there was high social complexity; people’s opinions were many and depended on social characteristics such as the length of residence, the reason that led them to live in Ibiza, economic dependence on tourism and the economic benefits obtained. In general, various groups could be outlined:
Residents for years for personal reasons. They were individuals from outside the island, with many years residing in Ibiza, and they arrived looking for a quiet place to live. Upon their arrival, society was just as they wanted, but with the evolution of tourism, this changed. This mentality, which seeks an immutable refuge, causes changes to be perceived negatively, and tourism, as a source of these changes, is considered a threat. Depending on tourism to make a living made these individuals moderate their negative attitude. However, in many cases, their professional activity did not have a strong enough relationship with tourism evolution to have a significant mitigating effect.
Residents for years for economic reasons. They were individuals who came to the island with the aim of working and prospering economically. As they had arrived for different reasons than the previous group and had a strong economic dependence on tourism, they were characterized by mostly positive attitudes towards the sector. This does not, however, prevent them from being aware of the negative impacts.
Recent residents. These were newcomers and, in general, had a positive image of tourist development (they had not known the island any other way), combined with ignorance about the social reality that they were just beginning to discover. The future reduction in the “ignorance” of these individuals depends on the length of time they reside on the island and the reason that brought them: those who came to work had less interest in getting involved in local society than those who arrived looking for a place to live. This group is the initial stage of the two previous groups.
Island natives with a strong economic dependence on tourism. They were people economically dependent on tourism and aware of the importance of the sector for local development. They had a positive attitude towards tourism for economic reasons, although they were aware of the negative effects.
Residents with great admiration for tourists’ behavior. They were people who had lived with the tourism environment from a very young age and imitated the behavior of tourists. They were a small group and constituted the extreme version of the previous group: they had a very positive vision of tourism and a strong lack of perception of the negative impacts.
Island natives with negative opinions towards tourism. This group can be subdivided into two groups: people with a negative view of a set of impacts and people with a negative view of tourism in general. Even so, this position was favorable to tourism but critical of the developments that followed.
Residents without a clear position. They were a residual group made up of elderly people who had not worked in the tourism sector. The stance towards tourism combined a certain ignorance with a positive attitude. They were, in a way, the remains of the pre-tourist society.
Of these groups, the most favorable to tourism were the residents with a strong economic dependence on the sector, and the most critical were the residents with little economic dependence on tourism and with the most conservative positions. In general, most residents are realistic about tourism, recognizing its fundamental economic importance but also its significant negative impacts.

5. Conclusions

Previous studies [4] and the data used for this article allow us to affirm that, in the case of Ibiza, the TALC is a good theoretical model to help understand its historical evolution. During the consolidation stage, the growth of Ibiza’s tourist industry was managed and slowed thanks to an increase in protectionist awareness among the population and regulations created by the regional administration. Although a limit on tourist places was established at the end of the 1980s, and this caused the supply data to remain unchanged since then, overnight stays continued to rise—reaching a maximum in 2000—due to the excess supply that existed. These changes are consistent with the theoretical model of the TALC, since in the consolidation stage, the various load capacity limits that the region has are reached; therefore, quantitative growth must be stopped and measures taken to avoid a subsequent decline due to the obsolescence of hotel stock or the destination going out of fashion.
The most characteristic element of the image and tourist supply at this stage was nightlife, specifically large nightclubs, an expanded and systematized version of the spontaneous parties of the beatnik and hippie years [2,4,27]. Since the 1990s, the tourist image of Ibiza has been very strong and consolidated, making it difficult to modify in any way. In reality, glamor and luxury have only been added to the island’s tourist image in the recent years of the 21st century.
The positions adopted by the political parties and the electoral results that occurred from the end of the 1990s make it plausible to think that most of society was favorable to tourism with minimal quantitative growth and important qualitative changes. In terms of qualitative growth, we can include improvement in hotel stock and workers’ training, but also a social improvement beyond the increase in income generated by the sector. The emergence of concern for the well-being of residents, beyond economic benefits, is one of the novelties of this stage. Therefore, a new approach to the management of the tourism sector was considered necessary so that “the Ibizans […] can combine economic well-being and spiritual well-being, since one without the other never ends up constituting authentic well-being” [23] (p. 217).
This new vision of tourism administration, in which residents and the non-economic effects have greater weight, encouraged studies on residents’ attitudes and gained importance on the island in the new century. Therefore, in 2000, tourism development had the future objectives of improving the offering quality and taking into greater consideration the residents. The first empirical studies carried out on the Balearic Islands on residents’ attitudes towards tourism were launched in 2002 and have been repeated in subsequent years. In the new century, many local businesspeople have refocused their offerings on luxury tourism [33] through important modernization and reconversions that target high standards for the service provided to clients. This new stage in the historical evolution of tourism in Ibiza must be taken into consideration in future studies, since there are only some approximations for the period 2000 to 2020 (e.g., [2]).
The main lessons of this case study for destination marketing organizations are as follows: every tourist destination has a limit to its growth determined by the various carrying capacities of the region. These carrying capacities can only be partially altered; therefore, they must be measured as soon as possible in order to design a destination development plan that allows for them to be achieved in a controlled and smooth manner. Mistakes made in the past, sooner or later, take their toll, and, in the case of Ibiza, the rush and lack of knowledge during the years of the tourist boom caused multiple problems in the 1980s and 1990s. Although it is possible to delegate some functions to other agents in the distribution channel, it is essential to have control of the planning, regulation and marketing of the tourism sector, or destination marketing organizations will be at the mercy of foreign agents with no interest in the well-being of the region. The resident population must always be taken into consideration, since tourism development has as its main purpose the well-being of local society. These aspects must be taken into consideration as soon as possible by the destination marketing organizations to minimize the negative impacts they will have to face in the stage of maturity of the tourist destination.
The main limitation of this work is the limited academic sources available and the closeness of this stage in time, which implies a significant risk of bias in the available testimonies and even in the authors. It must also be remembered that this is a case study, which limits the generalizability of the conclusions obtained. These limitations may be partially corrected for by carrying out future studies both in Ibiza and in other tourist destinations around the world, where it is considered that the consolidation stage has been reached.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, J.R.-C. and M.D.S.-F.; investigation, J.R.-C.; writing original draft preparation, J.R.-C.; writing—review and editing, M.D.S.-F.; supervision, M.D.S.-F. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Data are contained within the article.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Ramón-Cardona, J.; Sánchez-Fernández, M.D. The Consolidation Stage of the Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) Model: The Case of Ibiza from 1977 to 2000. Tour. Hosp. 2024, 5, 148-159.

AMA Style

Ramón-Cardona J, Sánchez-Fernández MD. The Consolidation Stage of the Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) Model: The Case of Ibiza from 1977 to 2000. Tourism and Hospitality. 2024; 5(1):148-159.

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Ramón-Cardona, José, and María Dolores Sánchez-Fernández. 2024. "The Consolidation Stage of the Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) Model: The Case of Ibiza from 1977 to 2000" Tourism and Hospitality 5, no. 1: 148-159.

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