Sitges is an important tourist attraction to local (especially from the Barcelona metropolitan area), national and international visitors. Beaches are one of the main resources used and, therefore, human pressure on them is high. The number of beach management issues is large and we focus here on the use of several coastal environmental indicators (coastline evolution, submarine and dune phytoindicators, microbiological quality of sand and water, and beach litter) to assess beach quality. Beach surface has considerably increased since 1956 by the construction of breakwaters and ports, but some beaches are still prone to erosion. An adequate management of the, nowadays fragile, underwater prairies and dune vegetation could increase their coastal protection function and other environmental values. The quality of water and sand is in general excellent, but some of the beaches close to the compact City Centre have shown some microbial contamination events in the past. The surface density, distribution and composition of beach litter provide useful information to study visitor behaviour. We concluded that, during the bath season, the mean available surface is about 9m 2/user, but important differences exist amongst beaches. Beach occupancy depends on factors such as beach length and surface, and distance to the City Centre. This multiparametric and integrated approach can be useful to promote strategies for better beach management in Sitges and worldwide. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Palomino de Dios, A., Cabrera Salvat, M., Martinez Garrido, E., & Sanchez-Cabeza, J. A. (2012). Environmental quality of Sitges (Catalonia, NE Spain) beaches during the bathing season. Ocean and Coastal Management, 55, 128-134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2011.10.004