Gozo tourism lobby calls for fixed wing air link between islands

The Gozo Tourism Association says a proposed Malta-Gozo road tunnel should be scrapped to safeguard the island's character but calls for a fixed wing connection between the islands • Proposes water park and voucher schemes for winter months

GTA said that the existing fast ferry service should be retained and improved
GTA said that the existing fast ferry service should be retained and improved

The Gozo Tourism Association has called for works to commence on an airfield for the fixed wing air link between Malta and Gozo.

But the association said that the proposed Malta-Gozo road tunnel should be scrapped once and for all, as a first step to safeguard the island’s character.

The proposals were made in the GTA's budget document titled ‘Recover and Consolidate Growth: Budget 2023’.

It also proposed that the existing fast ferry service is sustained and improved, whilst a fourth Gozo Channel ferry is built identical to the existing ones, in order to replace the Nikolaus.

With regards to the environment, the association said that it does not want Gozo to become another smaller Malta and that it was essential for Gozo to remain distinct and retain its unique identity.

It said that the environmental planning should not be limited to land but also include the coast and surrounding seas, ensuring the enforcement of marine protected areas.

GTA proposed that all of Gozo be designated as a Design Priority Area and that the Planning Authority Rural Policy is amended to reflect Gozo’s size. It said that Gozo should get a specific agri business policy and specifically drawn planning policies.

Gozo should retain its appeal

The association said that after the “disastrous” consequences of the pandemic, the tourism sector needed to focus on proper recovery whilst consolidating growth.

GTA said that there was a lack of investment and organisation in the Gozitan tourism infrastructure and that unfinished projects were giving the island a shabby look.

“Gozo has a distinctive cultural, heritage and natural resource base with a quality range of products. These inherent strengths have to be guarded and enhanced to ensure that they retain their appeal.”

The association said that the eco contribution collected from Gozitan accommodation units should be invested in Gozo’s product upgrading.

The right of access to the diving sector for the shoreline on the North and Northwest of Gozo should be ensured and enforced, GTA said.

It also proposed the development of a water park and the incorporation of sports facilities in one project at the Ta’ Xħajma horse race complex.

Tour operators specializing in winter breaks and longer stays, should be encouraged to market and sell Gozo for the November to April period, the association said. It also proposed that the vouchers scheme for the domestic market should be re-introduced to cover the November to March period.

“Create, offer, support and entice new niches like adventure, activity, sports, walking, digital nomads and well-being,” GTA said.

In a bid to address the shortage of workers in the touristic sector and improve the service, GTA proposed the introduction of a grant scheme for students who opt to work during the weekends or their holidays in Gozitan tourism establishments.

It said that courses should be organised for foreign employees to learn basics of Maltese and English and the history and culture of the islands.

The ITS Gozo Campus should be developed into a specialised vocational tourism institution, catering also for Maltese and foreign students, the GTA said.