Friday 18 August 2017

Paint the town red the cool way

BUNOL, SPAIN - AUGUST 25: Revellers cuddle in tomato pulp during La Tomatina festival, the world's biggest tomato fight on August 25, 2010 in Bunol, Spain. More than 45000 people from all over the world descended on the small Valencian town to participate in this year's La Tomatina festival, with the local town hall estimating that over 100 tons of rotten and over-ripe tomatoes were thrown. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
BUNOL, SPAIN - AUGUST 25: Revellers cuddle in tomato pulp during La Tomatina festival, the world's biggest tomato fight on August 25, 2010 in Bunol, Spain. More than 45000 people from all over the world descended on the small Valencian town to participate in this year's La Tomatina festival, with the local town hall estimating that over 100 tons of rotten and over-ripe tomatoes were thrown. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

For decades, Spain has turned a blind eye to inebriated foreign tourists on the costas. But the country's zero tolerance approach to binge drinking is coming to an end.

Rowdy visitors, including the green, white and orange variety, can expect tough retaliation from now on if they go on holiday benders.

The problem came to a head last month when police had to fire rubber bullets on drunken tourists in Benidorm to restore law and order.

In the mass-market resort of Lloret del Mar, dozens of lager louts, most of them French, went on the rampage through the city, kicking in shop windows, and injuring police officers.

In the Balearic Islands, a wave of deaths from so-called 'balconing', a fad where inebriated tourists jump from their hotel rooms into swimming pools, has caused authorities there to clamp down on anti-social drinking.

This summer, three tourists -- one Italian and two Britons -- died from the craze, and there have been dozens of injuries from hotel falls, way above the seasonal average.

Balcony railings are being raised and leaflets given out to tourists explaining the perils of throwing yourself head first off a building.

There have also been calls for educational campaigns to be run at home, to educate young holidaymakers about the dangers of going wild on holiday.

Another mad phenomenon gripping the Balearics has also been banned. Oxy-shot machines, which convert alcohol into gas -- allowing the body to absorb it 15 times quicker than in liquid form -- are being confiscated from resorts.

Young Irish tourists are among those who risk their lives snorting the €4 shots of vaporised booze, which goes straight to the central nervous system without being processed by the liver.

And last weekend on Ibiza, police arrested more than 70 people, including Irish nationals, as part of a massive drugs swoop taking place across the party island.

At a time when Spain is on its knees financially and the need to attract foreign visitors is greater than ever, the clampdown against binge-tourism could knock a significant hole in the public purse.

As more Spanish people opt to holiday at home, they are starting to reclaim their resorts but takings in pubs have plummeted.

While an Irish or British tourist might down five or six pints a night, their Spanish counterparts are happier to sip a glass of beer all night or pelt tomatoes at each other, as they do at the Tomatina fiesta in Buñol every year (pictured).

It might not be the most sophisticated way of painting the town red but it's infinitely cooler than getting sloshed.

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