There have been 13 incidents of young people falling from balconies so far this year. Three of these cases resulted in death while others have been seriously injured. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and ABTA – The Travel Association, have joined forces on a campaign to help prevent balcony incidents among young people in popular holiday resorts.
In Majorca and Ibiza, for instance, two of UK’s top tourist destinations, there have been 9 cases – already matching figures for 2011, despite only being half way through the season. Most incidents involve young people between the ages of 18 and 35 and whilst not always the case, alcohol often plays a part.
Paul Abrey, Consul in the Balearics, said: “We’ve already seen some tragic cases this summer which have had devastating consequences for the individuals and families concerned. This year there’s been a particular spike early on in the holiday season with figures already matching last year’s. Some people have fallen whilst climbing to a friend’s apartment, others have simply lost their footing after a few too many drinks and a few have deliberately jumped off aiming for the pool below. It should go without saying these practices are extremely dangerous and can cost them their life or leave them permanently disabled. Many young people also arrive without travel insurance. The FCO can’t pay medical bills and holidaymakers may end up paying out thousands for medical bills and flights back to the UK.”
ABTA predicts around 3 million young holidaymakers will head overseas this summer with Spain, Greece and Turkey favourite destinations. Young people travelling out to resorts will be handed leaflets which include the story of Jake Evans, 18, from Liverpool, who narrowly survived a fall from a 7th floor balcony last year after a few too many drinks. Jake also tells his story in a video, which can be viewed on the FCO’s website and on YouTube, in an attempt to get young people to think twice before they engage in risky behaviours. The video accompanies a short radio feature which will go out today across radio stations in the UK and on buses which transfer holiday-makers to resorts. To see Jake’s story go to www.fco.gov.uk/jake
Nikki White ABTA Head of Destinations and Sustainability said “Each year too many young people are permanently injured or worse because they’ve tried to climb over or dive off their hotel balcony. ABTA, the Foreign Office and tourist authorities are all working together to help raise awareness of the dangers and prevent these incidents. The after-effects are often made even worse through holidaymakers travelling uninsured and parents having to raise large amounts of money to get their children home. Our advice aims to help holidaymakers to use their balconies safely and prevent more of these tragic and avoidable incidents.”
This summer, the FCO and ABTA are urging young people:
• Understand the risks – climbing over or jumping off balconies can have serious consequences
• Know your limit – alcohol can impair your judgement and hotter climates can often increase the effect of drinking
• Get comprehensive travel insurance – be prepared for if something does go wrong. Figures released in July this year showed that Spain is the country where most Britons require consular assistance, including 1105 hospitalisations.