A mo­ti­va­tion to work harder

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

Tourist fig­ures for Gozo coming from mul­ti­ple sources are all en­cour­ag­ing: a 2.8 per cent in­crease in tourists in the first quar­ter of 2016, a 3.8 per cent in­crease in bed nights, a 12.5 per cent in­crease in Gozo Chan­nel trips in the first quar­ter with an 18.1 per cent in­crease in ve­hi­cles and 20 per cent in pas­sen­gers. These pos­i­tive re­sults have been sus­tained so much that Au­gust has seen another 7.8 per cent in­crease in pas­sen­gers vis­it­ing Gozo in the third quar­ter of the year with Gozo restau­rants record­ing a 3.2 per cent in­crease in rev­enue, when their coun­ter­parts in other parts of Malta showed a de­cline. Yes, it is a good rea­son to cel­e­brate be­cause such re­sults do not come by chance. They are the re­sult of good plan­ning and ef­fi­cient de­liv­ery.

How­ever, we should not, and we do not in­tend to rest on our lau­rels. If these pos­i­tive re­sults are a good rea­son to cel­e­brate, they have cer­tainly mo­ti­vated us to work even harder. There is no storm to be weath­ered. There is just the per­fect cli­mate to do busi­ness, to work and achieve suc­cesses. Storms have been weath­ered through hard work and luck­ily, storms can – at least for the time be­ing – be con­sid­ered a thing of the past. Now it is time to max­imise the ben­e­fits that we can reap while we are on the crest of the wave.

The next steps are the new berthing buoy in Xlendi and the fast ferry be­tween Gozo and Val­letta. The suc­cess­ful re­sults we re­ferred to have been at­tained with the ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture. The next step for growth in re­sults should be growth in in­fra­struc­ture. There­fore, the cruise liner in­dus­try that has been go­ing from strength to strength now needs the new berthing buoy in Xlendi. So far, we were al­ways happy each time we suc­ceeded in at­tract­ing a hand­ful of cruise lin­ers and have them land their peo­ple in Mġarr. That was good, but it will not be good enough in the long term. Our next bench­mark should be a sit­u­a­tion when cruise liner pas­sen­gers reach­ing Gozo would be the or­der of the day and, un­der­stand­ably so, this re­quires in­fra­struc­ture. The Xlendi buoy that shall re­place the cur­rent one, which does not serve its pur­pose, is the next step in the so­lu­tion to this pros­per­ous mat­ter.

This will be cou­pled with the in­tro­duc­tion of the fast ferry ser­vice be­tween Gozo and Grand Har­bour. The fast ferry ser­vice is another goal which the Min­istry for Gozo is work­ing hard to achieve. Ev­ery­one stands to ben­e­fit from the fast ferry – be it the na­tive Goz­i­tan pop­u­la­tion, Mal­tese peo­ple wish­ing to cross over to Gozo for a day or an evening, and for­eign­ers. Mak­ing Gozo more con­nected, mak­ing Gozo more reach­able brings ben­e­fits from each and ev­ery an­gle you look at– restau­ra­teurs, hote­liers, Goz­i­tan fam­i­lies with sec­ond and third gen­er­a­tion liv­ing in Malta, Goz­i­tan res­i­dents work­ing in Malta, or pro­vid­ing ser­vices to the main is­land. The Min­istry for Gozo be­lieves that the fast ferry is another mile­stone in the long road to mak­ing Gozo fully con­nected. It will usher in a new era and a new re­al­ity which only the very few can fore­see but which the many can even­tu­ally en­joy. I note with plea­sure that this fast ferry is­sue is not just a wish on a bucket list but some­thing that should hap­pen within the next 12 months or so.

With pos­i­tive sound re­sults boost­ing our con­fi­dence and con­sol­i­dat­ing our ef­forts, now is the right time to build a sound in­fra­struc­ture so that the good news we are en­joy­ing can be sus­tained and fur­ther im­proved.

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