We remember Summer 2022 and its excesses
The chaos and worse in what we call the Blue Lagoon exceeded their hearts when the activists led by Graffitti went up and removed the loungers that take over the minuscule beach for the general public.
Then, the next day everything was back to how it was, although the government ministers fell on each other to tell us that they were – ahem – going to address it that same day. We were not told, however, about the close ties they had with the operators of the lounge chairs and the mushrooming kiosks that offer loud music and kiosk food. This was left to other websites to reveal.
People have continued to write their own description of the culture shock they experience in today’s Blue Lagoon as mega-yacht after mega-yacht unloads crowds of pink lobster tourists, diesel yachts and probably human excrement into the small bay. And the operators cry with horror at every talk about the limitation of arrivals in the third island of Malta. Or re-establish law and order.
That’s how it is and that’s how it will be in the near future. More crowding, more pollution, more exploitation. More Southend on the Sea than the banks of the Ganges. But definitely the Third World.
Commune and the Blue Lagoon are just one example. Gozo itself is another with massive development all around, with monster apartments being approved by a supine Planning Authority without proper pre-planned infrastructure.
That is the story of Bugibba, of Wied il-Għajn, of San Điljan and soon of the rest of Malta after the developers finish with it, if they ever finish, that is.
That is the story of the Xlendi with the restaurants much loved by the government ministers who have the most enforcement in the bay. While the beach is quickly turning into a spit of sand surrounded by huge apartment buildings facing back-to-back balconies.
Ask the Island, reduced to a massive development zone in just a few years. The shops that broke out on the promenade have many enforcement notices but no one pays any notice, sorry.
In relation to massive enforcement notices The Shift examined two main areas in Valletta, San Gwann Square and a stretch of Triq il-Merkanti and found innumerable cases. What are enforcement notices, what are the Planning Authority itself when everyone feels immune and does what they want? What is the use of five-star boutique hotels when they are immersed in enforcement notices?
Where is all this leading us? So far we are seeing arrivals figures increase, hotels and self-catering accommodation registering a full complement as people emerge from Covid restrictions. But what will happen after the initial euphoria wears off? And what will happen when inflation continues to rise?
I saw an interview on an English television station with a teacher with a full-time job who explained how even with his wife working part-time they are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Now this could be because of the particular situation of the couple, which I don’t think, or because of the post-Brexit situation of the United Kingdom, but it will inevitably affect the numbers of tourists to Malta. The other EU countries are not much better as any cursory reading of news portals will show.
We think then that when they come to decide on their next holiday they will not be driven by their memories of Summer 2022 – the heat, the clogged roads, the crowds everywhere, the high prices in the mediocre restaurants, the indifferent service, etc?
We, being Maltese, can tell them much more. We can tell them about the ridiculous minister who blames the parties for the clogged roads when we know this is not so. But, being Maltese, we say nothing and suffer in silence.