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MaltaToday Survey | 29% hire a sun bed but 55% want fewer of them

Going to the beach is an integral part of Maltese summer life, to the extent that 77% go to the beach at least once a week while 7% go to swim every day

james
James Debono
3 August 2017, 9:00am
Hiring sun beds is popular with families with younger kids
Hiring sun beds is popular with families with younger kids
55% of the Maltese public would like to see fewer lidos and beach concessions where sun beds are being laid out on the beach from early morning, taking up public space for visitors who do not want to pay for a sunbed.

In MaltaToday’s latest survey, just 6% said they would like to see more areas on the beach allocated for sun beds while 34% favour the status quo. Moreover, 71% are opposed to the setting up of wooden decks on rocky beaches, that would make these areas more accessible.

But the survey also shows that a large number of Maltese are already paying for beach furniture when they go to the beach.

Overall, 29% said they hire a sun bed and umbrella when at the beach. Among under-35 year olds the percentage of sun bed users rises to a high 37%.  

Hiring sun beds is also popular with families with younger kids. In fact 39% of this category also hire sun beds.

The MaltaToday beach survey confirms that Ghadira beach in Mellieha remains the most popular beach, followed by Armier and Pretty Bay in Birzebbugia. Other popular beaches are Ghar Lapsi, Gnejna and San Tumas. 5% said they regularly go to a private lido or hotel rather than to a public beach.

The survey also throws a light on the habits of Maltese bathers. 70% said they do not read anything while at the beach and 46% go to swim more than once a week.  

Only 4% said they do not know how to swim and, interestingly, the absolute majority (72%) said they do not sunbathe to get a tan.

Despite the overcrowding of sandy beaches and the enduring popularity of Ghadira, only 28% prefer swimming in sandy beaches while 28% prefer the sand and a remarkable 15% prefer swimming by the pool.  

The survey shows that a relative majority of under-35 year olds agree with allowing nude bathing on at least one beach in Malta. But overall 51% are opposed to this idea.

Beach fun: No longer a free good?

The idea that going to the beach is a free good no longer reflects the reality of 39% of respondents who spend more than €15 for each family member at the beach. In contrast 36% still take everything they need with them to the beach and avoid spending anything.

Moreover the idea that beach fun comes for free is disappearing among the younger generations. Only 10% of under-35 year olds spend nothing at the beach while a remarkable 61% spend more than €15 for each family member. In contrast the survey shows the older generations as being more thrifty – with the percentage of those who spend nothing while at the beach rising to 43% among 35- to 54-year olds and 53% among over-55 year olds.

Interestingly 35- to 54-year olds are also the most likely to reduce their expenses by taking their own umbrella and deckchairs to the beach. Among this category 41% use their own beach furniture in contrast to only 22% of under-35 year olds. On the other hand under-35 year olds are more likely to hire a sun bed (37%) or just to take a towel with them (41%).

Books alien to Maltese beach culture

Under-35 year olds are the less likely to read while relaxing at the beach. Only 12% of under-35 year olds read a book and 78% read absolutely nothing.

Overall 18% read a book while relaxing at the beach, 7% read a magazine and 4% read a newspaper.   

35- to 54-year olds are the most likely to read a book (29%) while over-55 year olds are most likely to read a newspaper (7%).

The results tally with those of an NSO survey, which has recently shown that 55% of the population have not even read one book in the past year.

Majority against nude bathing

The survey shows an age divide in attitudes towards nude bathing. While a relative majority (49%) of under-35 year olds agree that nude bathing should be allowed at one beach at least in Malta, agreement with this proposal drops to 40% among 35- to 54-year olds and to 31% among over-55 year olds. Overall a majority of 51% are against having at least one beach where nude bathing would be allowed.

Younger respondents and females are also more likely to sunbathe to get a tan. The percentage of those who languish in the sun to get a tan drops from 47% among under-35 year olds to 13% among over-55 year olds. And while only 23% of males try to get a tan, the percentage rises to 32% among females.

15% prefer the pool to the sea

In a country which prides itself on the beauty of its sea and beaches, 15% still prefer swimming in an artificial environment.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents who have under-10 year old kids prefer swimming in a pool to both sandy and rocky beaches.

Younger respondents are also more likely to prefer swimming in a pool. While 20% of under-35 year olds prefer the pool to the beach, the percentage drops to 8% among 35- to 54-year olds and to 12% among over-55 year olds.

Families with under-10 years old children are also more likely to prefer sandy beaches.

In fact among this category 32% prefer sandy beaches, 23% prefer the pool and 46% prefer rocky beaches.

Overall rocky beaches are more popular than sandy beaches.

Wooden decks – no thank you

Inspired by a plan to install wooden decking at Ghar Lapsi along with other services, the MaltaToday survey asked respondents whether they agree with the idea of making rocky beaches more accessibly by installing wooden decks or whether they prefer leaving the beaches as they are except for basic infrastructure like stairs and path ways.

Agreement with wooden decking on rocky beaches is highest among respondents who have young children (30%) and over-55 year olds (28%).  But overall 71% reject the idea. Disagreement is strongest among under-35 year olds, 76% of whom reject the idea completely.

Life’s a beach 

The survey confirms that going to the beach is an integral part of Maltese summer life, to the extent that 77% go to the beach at least once a week while 7% go to swim everyday. Only 17% go to the beach less than once a fortnight.  

The survey confirms that Malta’s largest beach, Ghadira, is the most popular among respondents, followed by Armier and Pretty Bay. But rocky beaches like Lapsi, Bahar ic-Caghaq, Exiles, Zonqor and Delimara are also popular. Ghar Lapsi emerges as the most popular rocky beach. 5% mentioned a hotel or a private lido as their favourite swimming location.

Methodology

The survey was held among 315 respondents randomly chosen from telephone directories, who were contacted by telephone. The results were weighed to reflect the age and sex balance of the population.  The survey has a margin of error of +/-5.7%.

james
James Debono is MaltaToday's chief reporter on environment, planning and land use issues, ...