As nature claims Ghadira beach, sunbed concessions may be too big

Għadira’s kiosk operators will be meeting the Malta Tourism Authority shortly as the government plans to re-dimension the umbrella concessions on the beach

Since the 1960s the shoreline at Ghadira has withdrawn by some 25 metres
Since the 1960s the shoreline at Ghadira has withdrawn by some 25 metres

Għadira’s kiosk operators will be meeting the Malta Tourism Authority shortly as the government plans to re-dimension the umbrella concessions on the popular sandy beach.

The operators were given a 15-year concession ahead of the 2013 election to be able to put out sunbeds and umbrellas in designated areas on the beach.

But now, the Tourism Ministry wants to reclaim more space for the public on what is Malta’s largest sandy beach.

“On a beach that every year grows smaller, the concessions are too big and this is why Konrad Mizzi has directed the MTA to meet with the Għadira kiosk operators to identify a way forward,” a spokesperson for the Tourism Ministry said.

Studies have shown that since the 1960s the shoreline at Għadira has withdrawn by some 25 metres through erosion and the inability of the sand dunes to regenerate naturally as a result of the road that cut the beach off from the hinterland.

The ministry spokesperson added that the aim of the meeting was to open up new space on the beach to be used for free by the public.

Controversy raged on social media this week when Mizzi reacted to complaints of people being crowded out of Għadira by sunbed operators, pinning the blame on Opposition environment spokesperson Jason Azzopardi.

Mizzi said that just before the 2013 general election, Azzopardi, who was then the lands minister, gave Għadira kiosk operators a 15-year concession to lay out umbrellas and deckchairs even when not in demand.

Azzopardi hit back insisting the minister was trying to shift the blame for the lack of enforcement that allowed operators to overstep their concessions.

In the summer of 2013, after the change in administration, the MTA had taken action to bring order to Għadira but the ministry spokesperson insisted that action back then was to remove an unruly operator and withdraw his license.

“This summer, MTA officials carried out multiple checks on the concessions at Għadira and found them to be in line with the conditions stipulated in their concession agreements,” the spokesperson said.

One of the conditions imposed on operators is that their umbrellas have to be set back by three metres from the shoreline.

However, with the sandy beach losing out to nature, government believes the concessions granted some years back may have to be reviewed.

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