Balconing is the act of jumping into a swimming pool from a balcony or falling from height while climbing from one balcony to another, performed by foreign tourists during holidays. The term was formed through a combination of the Spanish word "balcón" (balcony) and the English suffix "ing", a suffix that most Spanish associate with English culture and English people, in reference the origin of most practitioners.
In 2010 and 2011, a spate of injuries attributed to "balconing" by the Spanish press occurred among tourists in the Balearic Islands of Ibiza and Majorca in Spain. Videos of people jumping into pools from balconies were posted on video sharing websites such as YouTube, which were alleged to have played a role in the spread of the phenomenon.
Injuries and deaths
In 2010 in Spain, there were six deaths and 11 injuries in falls from balconies which were identified as relating to "balconing" in the Spanish press. Most of the casualties were young British and German tourists with traces of alcohol in their blood, and the incidents occurred between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. In the same year, hotels were reported to have raised the height of hotel railings from 1.05 to 1.2 metres (3.4 to 3.9 ft) to reduce these incidents. In Mallorca, three tourists died in 2017 in falls from balconies identified as "balconing" incidents in the Spanish press. Between 2010 and 2015 it has been described up to 46 injured to this practice.
According to Juan José Segura, doctor at Son Espases´s hospital, 85% of the victims fall accidentally, usually while trying to jump from one balcony to the next or while recklessly moving near the edge, while the rest actively jump off the balcony. He estimates an average of 10 to 15 cases each year since 2011, with an increase since more of these jumps have been posted on YouTube.
Doctor Segura and the British Foreign Office established the profile of the "average practitioner" as a 24 year old British male. 97% of people involved in balconing are men and 61% are British. German and other nationalities are less numerous.
The medical costs of the tourists injured in this practice costs an average of €32,000 per case.
The balconies have a median height of 8 metres (26 ft), and the people have a median age of 24 years.
In 2018, the Foreign Office teamed up with Spanish surgeon, Juan José Segura-Sampedro to run a campaign of video messages to British tourists heading to the Balearic Islands during the summer. RTÉ also made a special program where a doctor from Mallorca participated.
Despite these campaigns, "balconing" is still a problem and various hotels in the Balearic Islands have been forced to implement measurements against it, like closing their balconies or building taller walls around them. Magaluf has been forced to regulate drinking in an attempt to control reckless behaviour, including but not limited to balconing. It has also introduced heavy fines for the practice of balconing, of between €750 and €1,500.
In 2018, there were six reported balconing accidents (British, Irish, and one French). Three of them were killed by falling. This is more than during the years 2016 and 2017. Nonetheless, some cases might not be due to the practice of balconing, but might have other causes like accidental fall due to excessive alcohol consumption.
- Segura-Sampedro, Juan José; Pineño-Flores, Cristina; García-Pérez, Jose María; Jiménez-Morillas, Patricia; Morales-Soriano, Rafael; González-Argente, Xavier (2017-03-28). "Balconing: An alcohol-induced craze that injures tourists. Characterization of the phenomenon". Injury. doi:10.1016/j.injury.2017.03.037. ISSN 1879-0267. PMID 28377264.
- Giles Tremlett in Madrid (2010-08-11). "Spanish authorities warn holidaymakers of 'balconing' dangers | World news". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 15 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
- Schaffer, Kathryn B.; Schwendig, Gary; Nasrallah, Fady; Wang, Jiayan; Kraus, Jess F. (2019-02-11). "Falls from a balcony while intoxicated: a new injury trend among young adults?". Injury Epidemiology. 6 (1): 4. doi:10.1186/s40621-019-0181-3. ISSN 2197-1714.
- "La siniestra lista del balconing suma y sigue | Baleares". elmundo.es. 2010-08-22. Retrieved 2010-09-13.
- El 'balconing' como fenómeno social de drogas, alcohol y juventud in elmundo.es
- Tres muertos por ‘balconing’ en menos de un mes en Mallorca in ultimahora.es
- http://cadenaser.com/programa/2018/07/20/la_ventana/1532099949_081845.html/Ser Radio/Entrevista con el Doctor Segura
- Planchard, Claire (21 July 2018). "Espagne: Aux Baléares le 'balconing' fait de nouveau des victimes parmi les touristes". 20 minutes (in French).
- Marta Torres Molina (17 February 2015). "Un 'balconing': 30.000 euros". Diario de Ibiza (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-07-23.
- Madrid, Graham Keeley (2018-05-12). "Spanish surgeon warns holiday Britons off fatal balcony stunts". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
- Watch Prime Time online, retrieved 2018-07-07
- "Ley seca en Magaluf: prohibido beber alcohol en la calle a partir de las 22:00 horas". ABC (in Spanish). 22 May 2015. Retrieved 2018-07-23.