The Malta Independent 21 September 2019, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Malta - An island paradise... that could be

Tuesday, 20 August 2019, 09:55 Last update: about 2 months ago

Malta, an island of sun, sea and Mediterranean cuisine. A country filled with beautiful sandy beaches, picturesque bays, where tourists can find peace, quiet and calm.

The litter-free country is an ideal location for tourists of all ages, who enjoy spending a nice relaxing day by the beach. And in this ideal country lies the small, secluded island of Comino, which is home to one of the most beautiful bays in Europe, the Blue Lagoon.

Always clean, never over-crowded, crystal clear water and a quiet atmosphere make this location perfect for anyone who wants to spend a relaxing day by the sea.

At least this is the picture Malta would like to paint for the rest of the world, but this is far from the truth.

Malta is not a clean country. Indeed out beaches are littered with microplastics and cigarette butts. Maltese beaches are, for the most part, not quiet, as kiosks and boats blare loud electronic music, as though they are trying to say “look here, look at me.”

The more popular beaches are overcrowded with sunbeds and umbrellas leaving little space for those who just want to enjoy a day by the sea with their family, leaving many crammed in the small zones left untouched.

Blue Lagoon is no different. Many Instagrammers take picturesque shots of the empty bay, but in reality, this paints a false picture of what the Blue Lagoon is today. It’s a noisy experience, where sunbeds take up almost all the space. People crammed like sardines in a can. It’s the opposite of a calm, relaxing experience by the beach.

These kind of locations do attract tourists, but one must ask what kind and at what expense. Malta is not a luxury destination, it is more like a budget destination at best. This is not the direction we should be heading in. Malta is overcrowded. We need tourism, but we should focus on catering to a higher class of tourists, and we should not sacrifice the enjoyment of the people who live here due to poor foresight and planning.

We should target a higher tier of tourist, which would allow the country to reduce the number of tourists, by attracting ones who spend more.

This will allow us to better protect our bays and beaches. This could allow the ability to limit the number of people at Blue Lagoon on a daily basis, thereby preserving the bay, protecting the ecology, and ensuring that everyone who goes there has a positive experience, rather than see tourists and Maltese alike complaining about the sheer number of people there.

Malta can do with less sunbeds on beaches. Malta can do without kiosks blasting out loud beats. Malta can do better.

If Malta gains a reputation as a loud and noisy place. If our once picturesque beaches get a reputation for being jam packed. If our coastline becomes an ugly hotchpotch of small apartments and we lose our Mediterranean appeal, if we get a reputation for being a filthy country... how will that impact our tourism industry... Why would someone choose to com ehere, and not go to the Greek islands, or Sicily?

Malta can turn things around, but the government needs to get its act together. The Planning Authority needs to be reigned in, as does the Malta Tourism Authority. Permits need to be more stringently looked at and more restrictions need to be put in place when it comes to sunbed operators and kiosks.

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