The Malta Independent 10 December 2022, Saturday
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TMID Editorial: So, exactly, what were they doing?

Wednesday, 16 November 2022, 09:49 Last update: about 23 days ago

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo told Parliament that enforcement officers were present in Comino every day during the past summer to make sure that conditions stipulated for the use of Blue Lagoon were being followed.

He was answering a parliamentary question last Monday and, frankly speaking, the answer he gave was no answer at all.

Before summer started, a number of activists went to the island to protest about the way the bay had been taken over by entrepreneurs, with deckchairs and umbrellas being placed on the small sandy beach. This impeded beach-goers who did not want to make use of the beach furniture from having available space on the sand in what is, after all, a public beach.

In comments he had given to The Malta Independent soon after that protest, Bartolo had said that beachgoers have the right to ask for the removal of beach furniture, and that the entrepreneurs must remove them if asked to do so.

That comment drew disdain, and ridicule, because it should be the other way round. Public beaches should be free of such furniture and these should only be provided if consumers ask for them.

It had then been said that the Tourism Ministry would be monitoring the situation. Now we know, from the answer given to the parliamentary question, that enforcement officers were on Comino every day. This is what Bartolo told us.

Yet, given that the situation on Comino – and, to be fair, on many other of our beaches – did not change much from the day of that June protest, one needs to question whether any kind of enforcement did take place.

The minister’s answer to this particular PQ, as could be seen by the reaction to it on social media, again drew disdain and ridicule. Few seem to believe that the minister is being serious when he says – or, better, implies – that enforcement officers did their job properly.

We are sure that, come next summer, we will face the same situation. And this is because the government does not really want to tackle the matter. It tries to juggle between wanting to please the business side of the equation while trying to keep the rest of us happy. In the end, it only means that Comino continues to lose its charm and people who still go there enjoy themselves less than they did in the past simply because of the chaos that exists every day, in particular at the weekend.

There’s another important matter that needs to be brought up.

The Tourism Minister has refused to give details on the concession agreements for Blue Lagoon, citing commercial reasons. It seems to be the ministry’s policy to keep its mouth shut on such matters; it has done it, for example, also on the deal reached with Manchester United, as well as the silence on how much the Malta Film Awards cost.

What the ministry is failing to see is that we’re talking about a public beach and public money, and we expect it to be more forthcoming on such matters.

 

 

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