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    Coastal city sets up beach reservation system

    Credit: Belga/M. Tijssens

    The coastal city of Ostend will implement a reservation system for the busiest stretches of its beach this summer, mayor Bart Tommelein announced.

    As it is not yet clear if Belgians will be allowed to travel abroad this summer, coastal municipalities are preparing for a potentially very busy summer, as they expect many inhabitants to holiday at the beach.

    In April, Tommelein launched the idea of “beach passes,” which would only give locals and some tourists access to the beach. The proposal, however, was dropped, leaving the organisation of beach visit uncertain.

    “As a city government, we feel that it is important to take responsibility. We want to ensure that as many locals, second home owners and visitors as possible can enjoy the beach, in a safe way,” said Tommelein in a statement.

    On Tuesday, Tommelein announced the reservation system, which will give priority to locals, second home owners and hotel guests. The reservations will be free of charge. Beaches that are usually less crowded, such as in Mariakerke, will remain freely accessible.

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    The system will be set up as flexible as possible, so adjustments can be made where necessary. It will also be linked to the available data from the counting gates in the city centre, so it can be part of the city-wide circulation plan.

    “During the study of the available surface area, it soon became clear that measures would be needed. With this plan, our beaches will continue to radiate openness and a holiday feeling, while at the same time guaranteeing safety,” said Tourism Director Peter Craeymeersch.

    The city of Ostend estimates that about 30,000 people can be received in the supervised swimming zones on the beach, if the social distance measures are respected.

    The system will be tested in June.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times