Government eyeing faith tourism niche for Gozo

Gozo Minister says plans in the pipeline include works at Ta’ Pinu Shrine to give ‘religious tourism’ a boost.

The development of a cruise liner terminal in Gozo, suggestions for an airstrip, an expression of interest for a casino and agritourism are all part of the government's plans in attracting more tourists to the sister island.

But, plans in the pipeline include tapping into another tourism niche: religious tourism, also knows as faith tourism.

Addressing parliament on the Gozo budget, Gozo Minister Anton Refalo announced the government would be carrying out works on the Ta' Pinu Shrine "to give religious tourism a boost".

The afternoon sitting was characterized by various allegations flying from both sides of the House, in what seemed to play out like a 'Gozitan blame-game'. Little could be understood of the innuendoes that the Gozitan MPs were passing during the budget discussion.

But it was clear that Refalo - who kept calling Giovanna Debono 'minister' - was determined on letting her know "the number of projects and studies" he has initiated and the interest which was being shown.

On the expression of interest issued for the cruise liner terminal, Refalo said "everyone" was interested in the project be it "Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Gozitans... everyone".

Refalo said tenders were opened this week and were now being considered: "I hope the Opposition is now believing in a cruise liner terminal for Gozo, because so far I have heard no reactions on the subject from the other side."

He said the government was working hard on attracting foreign direct investment to the sister island, "something which the PN failed to do during its 25-year reign".

Refalo said the previous administration had failed to cater for investors who wanted to develop industries in Gozo after "having taken the Xewkija industrial estate and divided the landed among three families".

He said that in 25 years, only one foreign investor had opened a factory in Gozo - a card factory which has now closed its doors without even paying the workers.

"And contrary to the Nationalist administration, we will soon be announcing the opening of a software company," he said.

Turning to Debono he told her that the way to attract investment was to accommodate their needs: "They needed a place and we located the former ETC premises. That is how you have to work."

More in Budget 2014
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I fully agree that churches and religion sites can be an attraction for special interest group tourists and there are sufficient cathedrals, magnificent churches, religious art and artifacts and fascinating votive offerings to make a religious holiday in Gozo attractive. I would go further and say that we are not exploiting our pre-christian archeological temple sites and promoting pagan style events such as solistices, planet alignments as well as historic enactment of rituals. Ireland exploits its rune stones and Wiltshire UK their Stonehenge temple in a very business like way. Certainly our megaliths and temple floors at Ta Cenc and the Ggantija temples are more than a match for these foreign ancient monuments. I am sure that the new Minister for Gozo in his multifaceted innovative way of boosting Gozo tourism will consider all these potentially fruitful initiatives.
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what a good idea,exploiting religion and faith for money!!
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F'ghawdex l ex Regina hafna ghawdxin bi penzjoni ta xi tip jew ohra holqot pis fuq min jahdem u jhallus il kontribuzzjonijiet, mela xoghol. P N Gvern bla rieda hlief li jerda mill kaxxa ta Malta ghall tall qalba
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At least we get something back out of all that fundamentalism and fanaticism. Good idea; keep them rolling.