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Holiday firms urged to protect
David Ward, Guardian
Monday July 3, 2000
Tour operators, airlines, hotels and
clubs should provide health education and advice to young ravers
booking sun and dance holidays in Ibiza, according to researchers
who found "disturbing" levels of drug abuse and unsafe
A team at Liverpool John Moores University
studied questionnaires distributed at Ibiza's airport. They found
that although less than 3% of those surveyed took Ecstasy on five
or more days a week in Britain, the figure jumped to 42% while
Use of cannabis soared from 29% on five or
more days while at home to 54% on Ibiza, and almost 31% said they
had used more than one drug during their stay. Nearly 90% had
drunk alcohol on five or more days while on the Spanish island.
With 700,000 British visitors expected to
head for Ibiza this year, the researchers called on holiday companies
to provide health education materials and advice.
"While the potential for substance-related
ill health is dramatically elevated in Ibiza, harm minimisation
measures in such resorts remain scarce," writes Professor
Mark Bellis in a paper in the International Journal of Drug Policy
today. "And although holiday companies attract a sexually
active market, safe sex messages are either absent or ineffective."
[Image] The research team found "disturbing" levels
of unprotected sex: almost 54% of the sample had had sex while
on holiday and more than a quarter did not use a condom, although
23% had sex with more than one partner.
Prof Bellis said many companies traded on
images of long nights of booze and sex. "Club 18-30, one
of the most successful youth tour operators, includes in its mission
statement, 'Try sex in the surf... drink all your duty free on
In the short term, harm minimisation measures
such as educational leaflets, information on seeking medical assistance
abroad and easy access to condoms seem essential steps in protecting
the health of young holiday makers."
But a spokeswoman for the Association of British
Travel Agents said: "Where the risks are exactly the same
as one would be facing in the UK, you can assume that customers
have a degree of responsibility for their own safety. A holiday
brochure is not the place for delivering advice, and I don't think
it would make one bit of difference anyway."
Club 18-30 said its customers were given a
voucher for free condoms, plus an advice booklet on drugs, produced
in conjunction with the Health Education Authority.
The company's general manager, Andy Tidy,
added: "While we are not moral guardians, it has always been
our stance to encourage young people to take a responsible attitude
towards drugs and sex. People of all ages tend to over-indulge
while on holiday, whatever their recreational preferences."