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Made in Ibiza: Carmen Ferrer, the tourist chief

Santa Eulalia head of tourism Carmen Ferrer relates what Ibiza means to her and why it should be respected.

Carmen Ferrer is responsible for tourism in top Ibizan family destination, Santa Eulalia. Here she relates what Ibiza means to her, how people should respect it and what the town is doing now and in the future to be a diverse tourist resort.

What does Ibiza mean to you?

"Lots. Ibiza is an island of contrasts; you can live among nature or enjoy great culture and nightlife. For me, Ibiza has a yin and yang that makes it unlike any other place. I've been to many amazing places, but Ibiza will always be home and number one."


"What I like the most are the autumn sunsets in September, especially when they glow red. Ibiza has amazing natural gifts"

What is your favourite memory of Ibiza?

"What I like most about this island is when it starts to rain and you can smell the earth in the forests or when you catch a glimpse of sea through the pine trees. They have an association with happy times in my life and those are the things I always recall when people ask me about Ibiza. What I like the most are the autumn sunsets in September, especially when they glow red. Ibiza has amazing natural gifts."


What big changes have you seen?

"30 years ago, what was available to the people living here was limited. Few families had the money to create businesses. The tourist sector has changed that and has given Ibiza's inhabitants incredible opportunities. Despite having a relatively small population it's amazing that we can produce great sportsmen, great musicians, top designers and engineers.

Ibiza has a great international outlook, which you don't see on other small islands. That's a very positive thing. We now have a challenge to understand that we can't keep growing without limits. We need to focus on sustainability and not alter beyond recognition. It's much better to make the most of what we have already than just keep growing for the sake of growing."

"Ibiza has a yin and yang that makes it unlike any other place"


What are the most special things about Ibiza for you?

"The fact that the old ways of doing things easily coexist with the modern ones. We take on new ways of thinking, living and being yet still keep alive our old traditions - it's a remarkable thing. I love that many parts of the island have stayed authentic and still resist change. People really take time to enjoy living, unlike say in a big city where the day seems to fly by. It's great that you can go from being on a deserted beach in the morning to the hustle and bustle of Ibiza Town in the evening. There's a lot of choice."


Peace, beauty and everything you need - Carmen's view on Santa Eulalia

Why would you choose Santa Eulalia as a destination?

"It's very peaceful and beautiful, plus offers pretty much most of what you can get in the rest of Ibiza. If you are coming with family or to get away from it all and rest, Santa Eulalia is your best choice."


Why do families like Santa Eulalia?

"We have many activities that you can do. There's music, art and culture, a varied nightlife, lots of restaurants, extensive sport and leisure facilities plus the Palacio de Congreso runs all kinds of events and puts on lots of shows. This balance is ideal for families and also allows us to have a longer tourist season."

"We are going beyond sunbathing, eating and relaxing – it's all about diversity"


Where did the idea of the restaurant events, like Jornadas Gastronómicas come from?

"These events help people to understand our reputation as the island's centre of gastronomy. People can also get to know food traditions like the matanza. Each November was the time when families would make a variety of sausages and other products from the pigs they kept – this is a matanza and it carries on to this day. These culinary events also showcase some of our more modern cuisine and highlight the rich diversity of our food offerings."


Asking Carmen why she loves Ibiza

What is the future of tourism on Ibiza and in Santa Eulalia?

"Ibiza is constantly reinventing itself and we have moved away from quite similar types of accommodation to very specific offerings, like adult-only hotels, ones that offer nightlife, hotels that are just for families, more 5-stars, more luxury. We have moved away from the idea that Ibiza is for young people who come to get drunk.

There is now so much more for here for families at all kinds of price and quality. We are working towards getting ‘family destination' accreditation, which means we have to meet certain criteria. We have already done a lot to attract families, offering family-specific activities, putting on events like the Barraguet Theatre Festival, things that people of all ages can enjoy. In May we have our local fiesta and lots of events for people to discover our culture. We are going beyond sunbathing, eating and relaxing – it's all about diversity."


What is your advice for anyone visiting Ibiza?

"Respect the island, respect it! Ibiza is very well known, it's a big brand, the hotels are pretty full and people come for all kinds of experiences. If I had to say what I didn't like about Ibiza and its popularity is that it attracts people that do not respect Ibiza. These are the people who come only to see what they can get out of it and only come to make money, then leave. They show scant regard for either the land or its people.

Some people just abuse Ibiza and the warm welcome it offers and indeed it welcomes and offers opportunities to everyone. Whilst many do the right thing, there are some that abuse those open arms. One of our biggest problems is both people making money illegally and those not putting something back. It's important that visitors and the people who come to work here respect Ibiza. It deserves respect."


PHOTOGRAPHY | Dina Aragon