Committee for national tourism zones launched

Three tourism zones established in the north, centre and south of Malta, Gozo to be addressed separately for logistical matters.

Three tourism zones have been established in the north, centre and south of Malta, in a bid to safeguard the character and attractiveness of the Maltese islands' tourism product.

The country's image heavily depended on the experience of tourists who visit the islands, tourism minister Karmenu Vella said.

"Numbers are not the be-all and end-all in tourism but we must ensure that each and every tourist who visits Malta has a positive experience which he can share with others," Vella said.

Addressing a press conference in which the national tourism zone committees were launched, Vella said that beyond the general necessities such as cleanliness and maintenance, each and every zone had its own peculiar problems and issues.

A central tourism zone committee will address the tourism product offered in separate areas and three regional committees will also be set up.

Parliamentary secretary Michael Farrugia said that beach concessions, caravan sites and restaurant tables and chairs permits will be regulated and simplified. He added that the government had to start talks with stakeholders to draw up a 10-year plan for the sector.

Farrugia also highlighted the need to return beaches that are currently inaccessible, to the people, including tourists.

One central national committee led by John Cassar will be coordinating the management of the zones, together with local councils and regional committees which focus on the areas separately.

While the committee's chairperson is nominated by the Prime Minister, involved ministries and entities such as the tourism ministry, the infrastructure and transport ministry and MEPA will also be represented on the committee.

Regional tourism zones were identified in the north, centre and south of Malta with the aim of addressing concerns of all stakeholders, ensure the efficient and cost effective maintenance of public areas, coordinate the management of public works and add value and improve the attractiveness of the zones.

Historic cities such as Valletta, Mdina and the Three Cities will be addressed separately. Given the existence of rehabilitation committees these localities will not fall in the national tourism zones committee, however if the need arises the new structure will be cooperating with existing structures.

Vella added that an assessment report on the effectiveness of this set up  will be carried out by the end of next year to assess the performance and functions of the central and regional committees.

Gozo is being discussed separately for logistical reasons and because the Gozo ministry in responsible for the islands touristic sector, Vella pointed out.

The north zone includes Bugibba, Qawra, St Paul's Bay and Mellieha, while the central zone includes the islands entertainment mecca Paceville, alongside St Julians and Sliema.

The south zone includes Marsascala, Marsaxlokk, Birzebbugia and Qrendi.  

Co-chairman George Farrugia explained that each regional committee will include local council representatives together with business and community representatives.

Listing the main responsibilities of the regional committees, Micallef said that these include coordination with the tourism police unit which is to be set up briefly and draw up an action plan covering medium and long term goals over a period of at least three years.