Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 19:33 UK

Catalonia says no to happy hour

Young man drinking (file image)
Barcelona is a popular destination for hen and stag parties

Revellers looking for drunken antics in the Spanish region of Catalonia may have to rethink their options following a new crackdown on budget alcohol.

Catalonia has banned happy hour promotional gimmicks to help curb excessive drinking among young people, the regional government said.

Violators in the region, which includes the city of Barcelona, could face fines of up to £6,000 ($9,000).

The measure is part of a new regional health bill approved on Wednesday.

It bans promotions such as offering two drinks for the price of one and unlimited drinks after payment of an entrance fee.

Spanish Health Minister Trinidad Jiminez welcomed the move and said similar measures could be extended to other areas of Spain as part of a new national health bill.

A tourism problem?

Catalonia is a popular tourist destination and Barcelona in particular is a target for many Britons celebrating pre-wedding hen and stag parties, PA news agency reported.

Sean Tipton, a spokesman for British travel organisation Abta, said he did not think foreign visitors were the problem. The company encourages customers to act responsibility when travelling abroad, he said.

"It's possible that this measure is aimed at young Spaniards rather than visiting tourists," he said.

However, in 2008 a UK Foreign Office report said the number of Britons arrested in Spain the previous year had risen by almost a third.

Most of the arrests were due to "behaviour caused by excessive drinking", the report said.

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