The Malta Tourism Authority is enforcing its message to keep the beaches clean with a new campaign. Stephanie Fsadni also finds out what’s new this summer at our favourite swimming spots.

Ħdejn il-baħar... armi bis-sens (On the beach...  dispose of your litter sensibly) is the title of the Malta Tourism Authority’s current educational campaign aimed at raising awareness on the need for a cleaner beach environment.

Mounds of refuse are collected from beaches every day and besides the rubbish that is left scattered on the beach, possibly harming the environment and fellow humans, waste that is disposed of is often not done so properly.

“We are raising more awareness on waste separation at source,” says Ray Azzopardi, product development senior manager at the Malta Tourism Authority.

The colourful waste separation bins found at beaches now also have coloured waste bags to make identification of the appropriate bin more easy and new recycling bins have been installed at Golden Bay and Għadira Bay.

Running parallel to this campaign is the Butts Off Campaign which is urging smokers to stop throwing cigarette butts in the sand. Thousands are left on beaches on a daily basis, possibly contaminating the sand with nicotine, besides making the area unsightly. Cigarette butts are also difficult to pick up by beach cleaners. In a bid to reduce this problem, beach supervisors are distributing ashtrays and other receptacles for free.

We are raising more awareness on waste separation at source

“We also did a pre-season seminar in which beach supervisors were encouraged to talk to beachgoers about the importance of disposing of their waste properly,” says Azzopardi.

The MTA is this year managing six Blue Flag beaches, including Golden Bay (Il-Bajja tal-Mixquqa), which was awarded this prestigious title for the first time this year. Since 2009, the beach held the Beach of Quality status but could not get the more coveted award because of the encroachment on its sand dunes – an issue which was resolved last year.

The Butts Off Campaign urges smokers not to throw their cigarette butts in the sand.The Butts Off Campaign urges smokers not to throw their cigarette butts in the sand.

The other Blue Flag beaches managed by MTA are Mellieħa Bay or Għadira, Buġibba Perched Beach, Qawra Point, St George’s Bay and Fond Għadir in Sliema.

In future, once the Mellieħa local council by-law is approved, only LPG gas-fired barbecues will be permitted at Golden Bay and Għadira (rocky area only), thus reducing the charcoal problem, which is very often not disposed of in the charcoal bins provided.

The MTA is also managing Pretty Bay in Birżebbuġa and Ta’ Fajtata in Marsascala.

The other Blue Flag beaches found around Malta and Gozo are Għajn Tuffieħa (popularly known as Riviera), Ramla l-Ħamra Bay in Gozo, both managed by Gaia Foundation with the financial support of MTA, and the privately-owned Edge Lido at the Paradise Bay Resort Hotel and the Westin Dragonara Resort Beach Lido, which both earned the title this year. The Ramla Bay Resort Hotel at Marfa is working hard to get the award too.

The Ministry of Gozo, with the financial backing of the MTA, is managing Marsalforn Bay and Ħondoq ir-Rummien, both awarded Beach of Quality status, and Comino’s Blue Lagoon and Santa Marija Bay. The ministry is also managing the outer area of Xlendi for the first time this year.

The management programmes were implemented on June 1 (and in mid-May in Comino), wheareas usually they start in mid-June, and are expected to run until the end of September, weather permitting, instead of mid-September.

This year, the MTA has increased accessibility at Għadira, with the introduction of 150-metre walkways across the middle bay, linking the disabled parking slot with the portable disabled toilet, the sandy beach and the sea. Sand wheelchairs, better known as beach trotters, are also available for free for those with impaired mobility. Such walkways are to be introduced at other beaches too.

A sand wheelchairA sand wheelchair

“These walkways can also be used by people pushing prams and the elderly,” points out Azzopardi.

Safety at the beach is a top priority. Lifeguards are present at all managed beaches. This year, Red Cross is providing the lifeguard services in Malta and the Emergency Response and Rescue Corps in Gozo. However, beachgoers should first and foremost act responsibly.

“People have to be careful and not pose a danger to themselves in the first place. We’ve already had some accidents, which could have easily been prevented,” comments Azzopardi.

For example, one should look out for the beach safety flags before getting into the water (see box above) and parents should not leave young children unattended.

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