Popular beaches like Comino's Blue Lagoon and Golden Bay are among the most crowded in Europe, according to a study by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, and the situation is set to worsen in the coming years. 

In a report by Deloitte entitled The Carrying Capacity Study for Tourism in the Maltese Islands, the hoteliers' lobby said it found that every visitor to Comino's popular bay enjoyed just 0.8 square metres of space. This would drop even further to around 0.5 square metres once tourism continues to recover and grow. 

"It is clear from this analysis that the quality of experience and competitiveness offered at key Maltese beaches will be drastically impacted by the envisaged growth scenarios. The situation at the Blue Lagoon appears particularly worrying," the report says. 

The density per visitor is also set to worsen in other popular beaches - namely Mellieħa Bay, Golden Bay and Gozo's Ramla Bay. 

But beaches are not the only problem areas. Stakeholders involved in the study warned that measures will be needed to control visits to key beaches and tourism locations.

"Certain historic sites and tourism zones - Ċitadella, Mdina, Valletta (including St.John’s co-cathedral) and the Three Cities - are estimated to be nearing peak visitor density rates that are similar to Venice and sustaining significant visitation increases without controls, improved management and investments appears problematic," they said. 

Stakeholders fear such overcrowding is a result of oversupply, an issue they believe is the "most urgent and pressing".

Too many tourists, or too few?

And yet, conversely, Malta needs more tourist numbers to sustain the expected growth in the number of hotel rooms, the report says.

"Ignoring supply side factors that limit sustainable growth, existing demand side risks suggest that in the medium-term, arrivals will not be sufficient to sustain the expected growth in available rooms," the report says. 

Infrastructural issues

And apart from being overcrowded, Malta's beaches also risk facing quality issues if the islands' sewage systems are not upgraded, the report says.

Sewage system capacity in some localities is getting old and cannot keep up.

"This is leading to sewage seeping into bay areas near sensitive tourism hot spots. Whilst the quality of Maltese seas remains high, the issue is expected to worsen without additional investment. Additional development in these areas requires careful consideration and such areas include Sliema, St. Julians, Bugibba, St Paul’s Bay, Xemxija and certain areas in Gozo," they said. 








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