Tourism minister Clayton Bartolo avoided questions about Comino’s deckchair takeover when he was shown a video highlighting the problem that has been watched by more than 4.1 million people.
Times of Malta showed Bartolo the viral video to get his view on the damage of the deckchair blight on the Blue Lagoon – one of the top tourist spots on the Maltese islands.
Rather than answering the questions, he kept reiterating that “Comino is not only the Blue Lagoon, but the entire island”.
Bartolo was asked whether he thinks it is right for operators to be allowed to occupy every bit of public land, leaving little space for visitors to lay down a towel.
“We are working, firstly to ensure that Comino is not treated as just the Blue Lagoon, but for it to be addressed with a sensible and sustainable plan for the entire island. It has the potential to attract more tourists,” he said.
“But I reiterate that Comino is not just the Blue Lagoon. There are other parts of Comino we need to work on, and we need a holistic and sustainable plan for the entire island.”
The tourism ministry has previously confirmed it did not issue permits for the operators this year. The minister was asked whether he knows if they have been granted a permit by some other authority.
“I will not go into that argument,” he said. “I want to look ahead.”
The Times of Malta video shows deckchairs and umbrellas eating up every foot of public space on the popular beach. It also records employees telling swimmers that the only way they can stay there is if they pay for a deckchair and umbrella.
The video has been watched by audiences in the US, the UK, Australia, the Philippines and Malta with thousands of people commenting about the “total anarchy” and criticising authorities for “ruining this beach”.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.