Although Gibraltar is surrounded by water it is not blessed with large beach zones. So those areas of sand it does have are very popular with residents and tourists alike.
This week the following letter appeared in the Rock’s daily newspaper ‘Panorama’. It read: “My husband and I have lived in Gibraltar for almost two years in an apartment at Both Worlds.
During this time, many people have told us about how beautiful Sandy Bay used to be, describing the large beach, the restaurant and the paddling pools.
We have been told that it was the best beach in Gibraltar to spend summer holidays. I saw it advertised in a brochure at the Tourist Office as, "one of Gibraltar’s secrets".
It now has a secret of a different kind. One that brings shame on those responsible for maintaining the beaches in Gibraltar. Since the October storm, the concrete walkways have been smashed beyond recognition and raw sewage is seeping onto the beach and into the sea.
Despite many calls to the Environmental Health department and the Tourist Board, nothing has been repaired. A hand made sign has been erected by an unknown person stating, "welcome to Beirut Beach ", which pretty well sums up the state of the beach. Why spend money sending the Gibraltar Regiment to train abroad, when they have what looks like a war zone area on their doorstep.
The Tourist Office tell us that they have nothing to do with the beach areas in the winter months but you only have to see the volume of tourists on Main Street to know that Gibraltar is an all year round tourist attraction. Many people staying at the Caleta Hotel enjoy a stroll along the promenade to Both Worlds. They are shocked at what they see.
We have only lived in Gibraltar for a short period but we take great pride in this lovely place. Surely those in authority should take as much, if not more pride in preserving the beach areas for present and future generations to enjoy. We have seen so many people in suits, looking and taking photographs but then nothing happens.”
Pretty grim stuff but is it true? I asked my man on the beach for his reaction and I was staggered to find that the situation is worse than even this letter suggests.
Seething with anger he told me: “This is not an exaggeration, they are spot on and there has also been raw sewage pouring on to the beach. You should see the state of Catalan Bay beach in the winter too. Catalan Bay beach is more visible to the tourists than Sandy Bay. During the “off season” times the beaches are just strewn with litter after a storm. There is a container still on the beach from the October storm. The official bathing season starts somewhere around June 16 and nothing is done up until then even after all the “crap” which is brought ashore on stormy days. I believe the Government has blamed the lack of funds and or manpower during the winter months for not attending to the beaches. Unfortunately our neighbours across the border in La Línea could show us a thing or two about cleaning beaches!”
There was a time when the overall state of Gibraltar was deplorable. A lot has changed in recent years and in the majority of cases it really is now a beautiful Rock. Gibraltar’s beaches should be one of its prized assets as its tourism is a year round business and there should be no “no go” areas for Gibraltarians or visitors. Tragically all they now see is the worst of Both Worlds.