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Blue Flag Beaches in the Maltese Islands

The Blue Flag is an international Quality Award that is given to beaches that are managed through sustainable beach operations, have excellent bathing water quality, safety and services. Beaches would also have various organised environmental events.

Beach operations have to abide by the 32 standard criteria of the Blue Flag Programme, that is administered by the Federation for Environmental Education (FEE) Denmark represented in Malta by Nature Trust. This year FEE is celebrating its 30th year of operation since its inception in 1987.

In May 2017 the Blue Flag award was given to over 4000 beaches worldwide, twelve of which were won by the Maltese Islands. Malta found its place on the world Blue Flag map in 2009 when St George’s Bay in Paceville was the first beach in Malta to be awarded the Blue Flag status. The Bay has won it every year ever since. This is the first year that the Blue Flag has been awarded to Hondoq ir-Rummien and Marsalforn bays in Gozo, breaking yet another record for the Islands in 2017.

The Malta Tourism Authority is currently managing eight beaches in Malta and assisting a further eight beaches, including beaches on Gozo and Comino that are managed by the Ministry for Gozo and the Gaia Foundation. An additional two beaches are being managed to Blue Flag standards by private resorts and both these beaches were again awarded with a Blue Flag in 2017. To achieve the award a beach must abide to 100% of the standard criteria. 

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Sustainable Beach Management

The United Nations World Tourism organization, (UNWTO) has declared 2017 the year for Sustainable Tourism Development and managing beaches in this sustainable manner has value added to tourism development as well as to the benefit of beaches and their environs.

The Maltese Islands experience an influx of tourists that visit for Sun, Sea and Leisure activities during the summer months. The clear, warm water of the Mediterranean attracts people to unwind in a relaxing environment. A total of 943,093 tourists (48.0% of total inbound tourists) visited the Islands mainly for this purpose last year. This is further added to the number of locals that regularly frequent the beaches in summer.

The size of the Islands offer limited coastal stretches and are therefore subject to increasing pressure from a number of sources including sport activities, commercial activities and the exploitation of marine resources.  Sandy beaches suffer greater exploitation and with favourable weather and longer days, activities keep extending also into the night. 

Awareness of sustainability is disseminated also through environmental initiatives that are implemented on an annual basis. These include coastal and countryside walks, clean-ups, nature photography sessions, water preservation activities, bird watching, star gazing, snorkeling and diving events, and visits to nature and marine museums amongst others. Awareness campaigns with school children are ongoing throughout the summer months and include waste separation games, quizzes, T shirt painting, hats and mask creations, photographic competitions and much more. Every event addresses an environmental topic every time.

Beach campaigns are organised every year against litter and cigarette butts in the sand. Many types of ash trays are created and distributed to the beach users while larger ones are allocated next to access points on the beaches. Educational campaigns promote this effort for continued success. Other campaigns include safety against Ultra Violet rays and reading on the beach where books are displayed for use during idle hours.

During winter all beach infrastructure is removed, maintained and stored, leaving the beaches free for the environmental elements to act on the natural beach processes. Sea grass is left to pile up where marine species are attracted to nest within during the cold winter months. 

Blue


Waste separation on beaches – Litter Free Beaches

The bin liners are again of the same colour of the bin compartment making it easier for people to separate. The black bin liners receive the organic waste, the yellow compartment receives metal, the red compartment is for glass while the blue compartment is for plastic. 

Blue

Blue

Blue


Butts Off Campaign

In parallel with the Litter Free Campaign is the Butts Off Campaign. Cigarette butts and charcoal fragments are a problem on beaches as they are missed by the weekly sand sifting operations. New ashtray pots have been introduced in access points to encourage smokers to dispose of the cigarette ends before they enter the beach. Moreover, cone ashtrays are being distributed by beach supervisors on all MTA managed sandy beaches, while pocket ashtrays are being distributed on rocky beaches.


Accessibility on Beaches

Having additional accessible beaches is once again a priority for the MTA. More wooden pathways are being assembled on rural beaches, new carpet walkways, additional sand buggies that can take wheelchair bound persons on the sand and additional hoist chairs are being assembled to provide better access to the sea.

Blue Blue
Blue Blue


The Safety Flag System

The safety flag system has been adjusted to conform to the new system of the International Lifesaving Federation, being in use worldwide. The flags are in a rectangular form and the colours indicate the following: Red over yellow flag demarcates the lifesaving boundary, green is for calm water, yellow for medium hazard, purple indicates the presence of pests (such as stinging jellyfish), red is for high hazard and the double red indicates that the water is closed for the public and the lifeguards may not risk their lives to enter the rough sea.

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Free Wi-Fi on Beaches

Many of Malta’s beaches have free WIFI which can be accessed in three simple steps after activating the mobile’s WIFI, namely; select MCAfreeWIFI, fill in details – agree, submit and enjoy!

Thank you for helping us keep YOUR beach safe and clean!



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Contact:

Name: Ms Pauline Dingli

Email: pauline.dingli@visitmalta.com

Tel No.: (+356) 22915611

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