Swimming pool license fee hike irks Gozo associations

General vote of confidence in Budget 2015 from Gozitan entities

The Gozo Tourism Association has welcomed Budget 2015’s investment in the sister island’s infrastructure and in human resources, with the allocation of another €500,000 to the Gozo ministry’s directorate for the promotion of Gozo as a distinct tourist destination and €200,000 for market promotion schemes.

The GTA said the Budget also earmarked €100,000 for environmental, economic and social impact studies for a Gozo airfield, and a new mooring buoy off Xlendi for boutique cruise ships.

It said work employment schemes would encourage Gozitan establishments to retain their full-time employees during the winter months, and that training schemes between November and March would mitigate operating costs to the Gozitan tourism establishments.

“However the GTA is concerned on the increase of 15% on the swimming pool license and will be seeking immediate discussions with Government related to this issue. Overall this is a realistic and objective budget that is acknowledging Gozo’s tourism needs,” CEO Joe Muscat said.

The Gozo Business Chamber was similarly disappointed in the increase of fees for the licenses for swimming pools and the increase in the tax on the price of cement.

The Gozo Business Chamber also noted that the 2015 Budget was a pro-business Budget by trying to decrease bureaucracy and increase more fair competition, with the elimination of the eco-tax a case in point.

“The proposal for the setting up of a Development Bank is a step in the right direction to facilitate more access to finance to SMEs. The GBC is pleased to note that there will be special schemes by ETC for the job creation in Gozo.  We augur that the studies on the permanent link between Gozo and Malta, a new fibre optic cable and that of a fixed-wing runway in Gozo will be completed in a short period of time in order to have these projects brought to fruition as soon as possible,” GBC president Michael Grech said.

On its part, the Gozo Youth Council said that too little was discussed regarding Gozo’s environment. “Although infrastructure for the elderly is important, nothing was discussed regarding a youth hub in Gozo. This was a budget proposition that has not been tackled. Gozo is definitely a lively place but will not be for long if more investment in the youth is not put in place.”

The Youth Council welcomed the further investment in education and tourism through the Gozo Medical Healthcare Hub. The budget however fails to refer to the Malta University Campus, which could be part and parcel of the mentioned hub, strengthening tourism and areas of expertise through education. Neither was there any reference to sports investment in Gozo or direct proposals regarding the youth.

“The implementation of a second fibre optic cable is crucial to Gozo’s future and we urge the government to continue on these lines and to truly develop a digital hub in Gozo.”

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