THREE young people have died while ‘balconing’ in the Balearic Islands this summer.
This entails leaping from a balcony into a swimming pool or trying to climb from one room to another via balconies. The participants are tourists – always young, usually drunk and sometimes high on drugs.
Occasionally the feat is successful, but injury is common and death always lurks. And abundant videos on YouTube prove that despite official warnings and discouragement, balconing not only continues but grows in popularity.
The last person to die while balconing was a 20-year-old Italian girl who was killed when she fell from the fourth floor of a Palma hotel earlier this month. Three young people were admitted to the Islands’ hospitals within the same 12 hours on August 8, one of them a 20-year-old British boy who fell from three storeys in Ibiza.
In Mallorca, two more, both aged 18, were involved in separate accidents in Magaluf. August 19 saw more serious incidents when a 21-year-old fell from the second floor of a Palma hotel, suffering concussion and several fractures.
That day a Briton aged 20 was relatively lucky only to break an arm after falling from the balcony of his Magalluf hotel room. This summer has already seen more balconing incidents than last year, particularly in Mallorca and Ibiza.
Episodes like these “don’t exactly give the kind of image we want to present to the world,” admitted government spokesman Rafael Bosch although the regional government has yet to introduce promised measures.
Many establishments have raised the height of balcony railings in line with British – not Spanish – health and safety regulations and installed projecting balcony partitions to dissuade climbers. One British resident of Calvia – who preferred not to be named – said: “this is almost 100 per cent about peoples behaviour.”
“Balconies, in the main, reach 1.10 metres and above. Many have inbuilt climbing deterrents in the design, and are vertical bars, solid walls etc.” “It is tragic and also awful for the image of any resort, but little the hoteliers can do to prevent it other than signage regarding behaviour which would have little impact when one has been drinking and abusing other substances,” he said.
“In my years as a Tour operator I can honestly say every balcony accident with the exception of one, was down to misuse of the balcony.” Together with tour operators, they were already doing what they could to make tourists aware of the risks involved, said Ibiza hoteliers. “But we can’t shut clients in.”
There was one last suggestion, however: balconing casualties could be charged for medical care: “That would soon put a stop to it,” said one hotelier.