No private lido concession planned for Qui-Si-Sana beach

Plans to upgrade Qui-Si-Sana beach will not involve a land concession to a private operator, according to tourism minister Konrad Mizzi

Konrad Mizzi refuted any speculation that the statement might have been a precursor to a land concession for a lido on the beach
Konrad Mizzi refuted any speculation that the statement might have been a precursor to a land concession for a lido on the beach

Plans to upgrade Qui-Si-Sana beach will not involve a land concession to a private operator, according to tourism minister Konrad Mizzi. 

During a ministerial statement in parliament last Wednesday, Mizzi said that during this legislature, the government would be making an effort to upgrade a number of Malta’s beaches to “world-class” status through partnerships with the private sector.  

He said the immediate targets were Ghadira Bay in Mellieha and Qui-Si-Sana in Sliema, specifically, the part of the coast that stretches from the disused Chalet site to Tigné. 

Referring to the Sliema beach, Mizzi pointed out that the area was “dilapidated” but still frequented by many tourists. “We intend to issue calls for a public-private partnership for the development of the actual Chalet site into a leisure facility and for a fully-equipped public beach.”

Konrad Mizzi
Konrad Mizzi

Replying to questions by MaltaToday, Mizzi refuted any speculation that the statement might have been a precursor to a land concession for a lido on the beach. 

He also denied that the beach risked being overrun by operators given a concession to sell umbrellas and sunbeds, insisting there was “no chance” of this happening.

Sliema mayor Anthony Chircop has already warned that handing over the Sliema seafront to private lidos was not on.

Mizzi’s comments sparked a debate among Sliema residents on Facebook, many questioning what the minister meant by “beach leisure facilities”. “Did the minister mean the coast would get an artificial beach like St George’s Bay? Or will we see a proliferation of private beach clubs that take up all the coast?” resident Marie Gauci wrote on a Sliema residents’ Facebook group.

Sliema mayor Anthony Chircop
Sliema mayor Anthony Chircop

Mayor Anthony Chircop said the council would contest the privatisation of the seafront. “The Sliema front is dying for increased investment… The council is all in favour of introducing better facilities such as changing rooms, walkways and seaside ladders and will be glad to discuss this with the government,” he told the Times.

But he said a man-made sandy beach was a non-starter as the seabed between Sliema front and St Julian’s could not accommodate one. “There are rocks and then deep water, I can’t see where you could have a sandy beach,” he said.

On his part, Mizzi said that a team at the ministry had already started working on the necessary requirements for the beach and that contact had been made with the Environment and Resources Authority to determine what facilities would be permissible without damaging the surrounding environment. 

“The general view is that the areas around Qui-Si-Sana are currently substandard and lack accessibility,” he said, adding that the beach “requires considerable investment” to significantly upgrade existing facilities and improve its safety among other issues. 

The minister – who is two weeks into his new role – said the facilities would include showers, railings and possibly some form of temporary platform or decking, although this was still being worked out.  

The Chalet’s last remaining columns and top platform were demolished in 2006
The Chalet’s last remaining columns and top platform were demolished in 2006

He said the “model for the management and upkeep” of the beach was still being formulated, but stressed that it would remain open to the public. 

“The government is committed to keeping the beach accessible, for free, to the general public. It will not be operated as a private lido,” he said. 

“A free beach with improved facilities will be an added attraction for resident families and tourists alike.”

Asked about how the development’s private partner would make money from a public beach, Mizzi referred to the conversion of the Chalet at Ghar id-Dud as a source of revenue. 

“It is envisaged that revenues from these facilities will support the private partner’s role in upgrading the free public beach,” said Mizzi. 

He explained that with a significant investment, the Chalet could be returned to its former charm and could make for a profitable commercial leisure facility. 

The Chalet was a popular meeting point before it was closed in 1959 after sustaining heavy damage. The last remaining columns were demolished in 2006. 

The minister said more concrete plans would be announced once all the necessary stakeholders have been consulted. 

Similarly, on Ghadira, Mizzi said a team would be reviewing the existing situation and discussing with all stakeholders, including the council and operators at the beach, in order to determine what facilities are required.  

He said the project would initially go through a six-month planning phase before being launched for consultation. 

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