Yesterday, the CEO of the Chamber, Daniel Borg, participated in a seminar organized by the Ministry for the Economy and Industry. The seminar addressed Malta’s Economic Vision 2021 – 2031 National Consultation for Pillar 2 – High Quality Infrastructure & Investment.
Mr Borg was asked to comment on the new fast ferry service, which was introduced few weeks ago, and whether the permanent link between Malta and Gozo would be a drawback on the tourism industry for Gozo.
Mr Borg started by highlighting the fact that the Chamber was always in favour of a permanent link, as it was in favour of the fourth ferry and the fast ferry service. He stated that since there is no permanent link between the two islands, that is already a non starter for investors to open a business in Gozo. Having a permanent link, Gozo can move forward not only economically but also socially.
Mr Borg also mentioned that although there are two Fast Ferry operators, and that Gozo Channel is operating with four ferries, there is still another problem that all the traffic is entering from one point, i.e. Mgarr. If something happens to this point of entry, even an accident on the main road connecting Mgarr to the rest of Gozo, Gozo will stop. It is therefore necessary that we continue to develop the aspect of accessibility to Gozo.
In regards to the tourism industry, Mr Borg stated that such project will not have an impact on tourism. First, a major infrastructure project does not mean environmental damage. The environmental damage will be done if the development policies regarding Gozo are not controlled, something that is currently happening. The tunnel will help those businesses that wish to operate from Gozo to do so without hindrance. Here, Mr Borg made reference to the tunnel inaugurated last year at the Faroe Islands.
He concluded that while Malta experienced a boom in tourism between 2017 and 2019, Gozo experienced a reduction in tourism, and this happened definitely not because of the tunnel. The tunnel should rather help this aspect. Therefore, it is important to understand that the development and the tunnel are two different aspects.