[WATCH] After Graffitti Comino deckchair action… minister claims MTA inspectors were slated for visit

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo says situation in Comino has already been addressed by authorities, promising better enforcement in the area

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo

Believe it or not, tourism inspectors were scheduled to visit Comino to ensure operators hiring deckchairs and umbrellas were acting correctly when Graffitti took direct action last Saturday.

The surprise revelation was made by Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo on Monday when talking to journalists on his way into parliament.

“The same day Graffitti carried out the action, MTA officials were going to carry out inspections and ensure the situation is fixed,” Bartolo said, while defending the direct action taken by the activists on Saturday.

Activists and members of Moviment Graffitti launched an early morning direct action on the island of Comino, by removing empty deckchairs that were blocking free access to the public coastline.

The activists, around 50 in all, descended on the beach at the Blue Lagoon shouting: “The sea, the bay, it is everybody’s… it is unacceptable to pay money to enjoy what is ours by right.”

The Tourism Minister insisted the situation on Comino is being addressed.

“The sandy beach will only be accessible to people, and there will be no sunbeds and umbrellas. There will also be a substantial decrease in the number of sunbeds and umbrellas in the area,” Bartolo said.

However, he added that a balance must be struck, saying that while people have the right to enjoy the beach without making use of umbrellas or sunbeds, there are a “substantial number of tourists” who still want to use such facilities.

After stating that the situation has already been addressed, the minister was asked whether any changes were carried out in the agreement between authorities and the beach operator.

He said the agreement has remained the same, stating the issue is that of ensuring the enforcment and supervision of the area continues. “That is what we will be doing on a regular basis,” he promised.

Asked who is responsible for the lack of action, he said the ministry is not responsible, but insisted he will ensure that appropriate enforcement is carried out.