New noise restrictions in the party town of Magaluf threaten to “kill the place dead”, say opponents of a law being introduced to bars and restaurants in the south-west corner of Majorca.
The town hall of Calvia, the region of the popular Balearic island that includes Magaluf and Palmanova, this month brought into force regulations that limit music noise in establishments to under 60 decibels, with 65 decibels – equivalent to laughter or a hair dryer – triggering a sound limiter that automatically mutes the volume.
“It’s lunacy,” said Leapy Lee, a veteran musician who performs in bars across Majorca. “I play in one place in Magaluf where customers are complaining because they can’t hear it.
“A lot of performers I know have lost work this season. The bars are cancelling them because they can’t use them. Live bands can’t play at all because the volume trips the limiters straight away.”
The draconian law is being seen as the latest an attempt by authorities to clean up the image of Magaluf and shed its reputation for debauched 18-30 parties and alcohol-fuelled antics.
A crackdown on bad behaviour – including fines for drinking, urinating or stripping off in the street – began in 2015 as part of a five-year, £214 million regeneration programme, with British police sent abroad to help keep visitors in line.
At the end of last summer, the three organisations behind the project – the police, the town hall and the hotel association – announced victory, claiming the resort was now a family-friendly, upmarket destination.
“They’re going to kill the place dead,” said Lee, adding that bars with large outdoor terraces are likely to lose business because those seated outdoors cannot hear the music. A protest against the law was planned to take place last month but was unable to gain the required permits so was cancelled.
Calvia town hall, however, is standing firm and says it is implementing a European directive to comply with regional and national law.
“This is not a decision that the town hall has made,” said Andreus Serra, Calvia’s deputy mayor. “The same regulations are in place in Palma, but it isn’t creating the same controversy.”
Opponents say that the restrictions in Palma are looser, with noise allowed up to 100 decibels.
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“There is a misconception that more noise means more business,” said Serra, “but our priority is to ensure quality of life for our residents – and that means reducing pollution, be it noise pollution or any other form of pollution.”
Last year, a spokesperson for the regeneration project said that the number of families visiting Magaluf had risen, while the number of “young travellers” was down.
A spokesperson for Thomas Cook, which offers a number of hotels in the resort, said that the tour operator was seeing a move away from the “traditional Magaluf”.