Aug 29

In booze-soaked Spain, the party may soon be over (Independent, August 28, 2011):

‘Binge tourism’ reaches a new low when police fire rubber bullets to restore peace. Alasdair Fotheringham reports from the Benidorm plaza dubbed ‘British square’

For decades now, the Spanish have taken an easy line on foreign tourists and the oceans of alcohol they consume in coastal resorts every summer. Not any more. The party is definitely over in one of the most emblematic of Spain’s mass tourism towns, Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava, where, earlier this month, police fired rubber bullets at gangs of drunken revellers when they ran amok through the city, kicking in shop windows and setting a police car on fire. After two nights of clashes that dragged on until 7am, there were 20 injured, nine of them police officers, and 20 arrests. Tellingly – in a city of 40,000 with 25 discos, 261 bars and roughly a million tourists a year – all those in custody were foreigners, most of them reportedly French.

As far back as 2004 – when, after similar incidents, the then Catalan Minister of the Interior invented the phrase “binge tourism” – there were promises of clean-ups. This time, though, in a year which had already seen 15-year-old British expat Andrew Milroy stabbed to death outside a nightclub, (over which two French men have been arrested), the authorities say they mean business. “We’ve touched bottom on these questions,” the mayor of Lloret de Mar, Roma Codina said. “We will be shutting down the most conflictive bars and banning prostitution in public.” For good measure, he added, disco closing times were to be tightened up and there would be a crackdown on underage drinking. The police presence was massively stepped up, too.

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