Five bays in Malta and one in Gozo have been awardedthe prestigious Blue Flagstatus, which means they have pristine swimming waterand are managed in asustainable manner.

Three others were crowned Beach of Quality, after satisfying three of the four main criteria, which also include health and safety and the transmission of information.

The Blue Flag bays are: Riviera Bay in Għajn Tuffieħa, Għadira, Qawra point, Ramla l-Ħamra, St George’s Bay and the Buġibba perched beach. The last two received the award last year and were reconfirmed this year.

Another three beaches – Golden Bay, Fond Għadir and the private bay at the Paradise Bay Resort Hotel in Ċirkewwa – were awarded the Beach of Quality status.

There are now threetimes as many Blue Flag and quality beaches as there were last year.

Environment Minister Mario de Marco said that over the past four years, the government had invested €108 million in drainage treatment plants. Consequently, Malta became the first Mediterranean country to treat all its drainage before it is dumped in the sea.

The Malta Tourism Authority manages four of the six beaches awardedthe Blue Flag status and financially assisted Gaia in the management of theother two: the Riviera and Ramla l-Ħamra.

In all, MTA invested some €700,000 in beach management, including lifeguards, sand sifting, supervision and water quality tests.

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