Lounger scam plaguing Malta’s Blue Lagoon public beach

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The deckchair operators have forced swimmers to leave one of the most beautiful “free” beaches in Europe. Photo / Tripadvisor

One of the Mediterranean’s most popular free public beaches has been overrun with dishonest deckchair vendors. An exhibition of Malta weather revealed that tourists were forced out of coves and refused to travel to let tourists pass without paying for a recliner.

The Blue Lagoon, between the islands of Comino and Cominotto in Malta, is famous for its clear waters, caves and hidden coves.

It was recently touted as one of the Telegraph’s best beaches for the summer, in large part due to Malta’s lack of quarantine requirements.

Once a poster for the Maltese tourist office, it is now unrecognizable, buried under umbrellas and deckchairs. Even those arriving on the first ferry to the island are unable to secure space.

Monday Malta weather posted a video of deckchair vendors and employees preventing swimmers from finding space on the public beach. The video has been viewed over 4 million times.

The Blue Lagoon on Camino was used to promote Malta to the world.  Photo / Unsplash, Mike Nahlii
The Blue Lagoon on Camino was used to promote Malta to the world. Photo / Unsplash, Mike Nahlii

It shows tourists trying to move along the beach, only to be blocked by barricades of umbrellas and lounge chairs.

“If you rent a deckchair, you can move the parasol,” we hear one employee say.
Maltese viewers condemned the scam, saying the beach grabbing ruined the attraction. “There is no fairness, there is no consideration.”

The video drew a lot of comments from tourists who encountered issues on Camino.

“I had to move empty sunbeds a little bit just to get through,” said one visitor, after which an operator “quickly ran up to us and started yelling at us that unless we rent from him, we don’t shouldn’t touch the sunbeds “.

Sunbed companies accused by tourists of blocking their access to the public beach are paying concessions to the Maltese government.

However, when questioned by local media, the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Watchdog did not say how many operators were operating on Camino, they were not available. A statement to The temperature said only “no permit for deckchair operators has been issued this year”.

Authorities in Camino would not answer questions about whether the lounge chair vendors were breaking access laws or acting unfairly. Instead, they released a statement saying:
“The aforementioned island is not only made up of the Blue Lagoon, but incorporates other natural attractions that, as a government, we will continue to conserve and invest, while promoting the niche of ecotourism.”

The Malta Independent revealed that there were almost 460 sunbeds at a time, double the number allowed in the Maltese Tourism Association’s tender document.

Each of these chairs is charged at 10 euros ($ 17) per day – or up to $ 21 for those closer to the water.

For Rent: Tourists are furious at being charged to access the free public beach.  Photo / Tripadvisor
For Rent: Tourists are furious at being charged to access the free public beach. Photo / Tripadvisor

A tourist posted pictures on Tripadvisor saying “Of course the water is beautiful, but there is no more than 2 inches between each bather”. He was concerned about the lack of distancing measures and the waste left behind. “Everything has been ruined,” he said.

Malta’s Ministry of Tourism was recently accused by Friends of the Earth of corruption and abuse of public land.

Previously, the Blue Lagoon had appeared before the Maltese parliament for illegal road works, in order to improve access to the site.

The ombudsman and the commissioner for the environment and town planning said the road to the lagoon was illegal and without proper environmental consideration.
Malta weather reported that no action had been taken and resurfacing work continued.

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