Dive centres complain of loss of business due to Brangelina shoot

Gozitan dive centres have complained that Brangelina film By the Sea is leading to cancellations of dives and loss of business.

Mgarr ix-Xini
Mgarr ix-Xini

Gozitan diving schools have complained that the high-profile Hollywood film production of ‘By the Sea’ – directed by and starring Angelina Jolie, and co-starring her husband Brad Pitt – at Mgarr ix-Xini is preventing divers from availing themselves of the best diving spots in Gozo, resulting in a loss of business for diving schools.

Speaking to MaltaToday, diving school representatives said that the shoot location prevents their customers from availing themselves of the strong seasonal NW winds, with Mgarr ix-Xini being an ideal spot for night diving.

“So far there have been two days of very strong NW wind – 8 and 9 September – when we lost a great deal of business directly due to the fact that Mgarr ix-Xini and Ta’ Cenc were not available,” Mark Busuttil of St Andrew’s Divers Cove said.

“Night dives were cancelled. Beginner dives were cancelled. Some tried to use pools for beginner dives and courses. Some refused to dive because all alternative dive sites (Xatt l-Ahmar and Ras il-Hobz) were too deep,” Busuttil told MaltaToday, adding that other divers stopped diving altogether since they had already gone diving at the same two sites on a separate occasion – 7 September – when the NW wind was blowing.

The diving school representatives said they had met with the Tourism Minister and the film commissioner in an attempt to find a compromise, but claim that nothing came out of these discussions.

“During this meeting film commissioner Engelbert Grech promised to check with the film production about allowing us to use Mgarr ix-Xini, Ta’ Cenc and Fessej (three out of the only five south coast dive sites) on particular days,” Busutill said. However, after the meeting took place, the dive centres were informed that none of their requests was accepted.

“I specifically asked the film commissioner if there was going to be any filming at night, and he informed us that there won’t be,” George Vella of Calypso Dive Centre said, since he then hoped the dive centres would be allowed to at least cater for night dives.

“We were supposed to be put in touch with a liaison person from the film unit so that we could stay updated on the filming schedule, and whether we could make use of the bay when the NW wind blows. But we heard nothing back,” Vella said.

Both dive centre representatives said they are still calculating their estimated losses as a result of the filming.

“Each dive centre is being asked to take note of the cancellations they get from clients, who are sick and tired of diving the same two spots when the NW blows, as they are not the best dive sites we have in Gozo by far. You have to bear in mind that when the NW blows, the best sites we have in Gozo on the North and the Northwest are completely blown out for a minimum of three days. Would you spend a week’s diving holiday here visiting the same dive site, morning, afternoon and sometimes night for three days in a row?” Vella asked.

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