Beach concessions at the Blue Lagoon in Comino have been renewed again despite the tourism minister having said that a call for tender would be issued this year.
Tourism minister Clayton Bartolo confirmed on Monday that all beach concessions in Comino have been renewed , saying the government is yet to finalise a long-term plan for the site. He added that deckchair providers will only be able to use a third of the space they previously occupied.
“The agreement is that those that were (renting deckchairs) before will have less space to set up”, he said.
In November Bartolo had said that Comino beach concessions that expired in 2020 were extended into 2021, and 2022, because of the “uncertainties of the pandemic”. But he had told PN MP Albert Buttigieg, Bartolo that a public call for beach concessions at the Blue Lagoon would be published in the first months of 2023.
Asked by journalists on Monday why no competitive call had been published, Bartolo said that a long-term plan for Blue Lagoon was yet to be finalised and so the operators would stay on until it was concluded.
"I said last year that the situation in Blue Lagoon will change, and that’s what will happen,” he said.
“This year only 35 per cent of deckchairs will be set up at the Blue Lagoon compared to last year.”
“The quay and beach will be returned to the public, and be free from deckchairs.”
The way how rental deckchairs occupied every space at the Blue Lagoon was a hot topic last summer with activists protesting twice over the issue.
They had insisted that deckchairs and umbrellas should be restricted to 30 per cent of the Blue Lagoon, with operators only setting them up when asked to by a paying client.
More cleaners for Comino
Bartolo also said on Monday that an extra shift of workers would be working in Comino to improve cleanliness.
Earlier this month Times of Malta reported that there are at least 15 people employed full-time by the government to clean Comino, yet a group of volunteers collected 140 bags of rubbish in five hours, including glass bottles that were 30 years old.