Gozo get­ting what it de­serves

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

The na­ture of men (and women) is such that the more he con­sumes, the more he wants. We can wit­ness this fact in ev­ery­day life. Once a press­ing need is sat­is­fied, another one kicks in. Once a tar­get is reached, a new ob­jec­tive is set.

A few years ago, the fo­cus of most of our dis­cus­sion was on the need to re­vi­tal­ize the tourism sec­tor. It was a sec­tor un­der­go­ing a per­sis­tent con­trac­tion with jobs and in­vest­ment de­clin­ing year af­ter year. Goz­i­tans were wor­ried about the com­plete lack of for­eign in­vest­ment. They were con­cerned that em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in Gozo were at such a pre­mium that a Goz­i­tan work­ing in Gozo was pre­pared to re­ceive lower salary com­pared to some­one do­ing the same work on the main is­land.

To­day we have a year-long boom­ing tourist in­dus­try. Af­ter decades, im­por­tant in­vest­ment was at­tracted to dif­fer­ent sec­tors while em­ploy­ment is record­ing ro­bust growth.

Now that we have ad­dressed the most press­ing of is­sues, this ad­min­is­tra­tion can start look­ing at other im­por­tant needs that for many years wor­ried Goz­i­tans but un­for­tu­nately have al­ways re­mained un­ad­dressed by pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions. One of th­ese was the need to have proper all-year-round swim­ming fa­cil­i­ties.

The plea to have proper swim­ming pool fa­cil­i­ties in Gozo was pri­mar­ily pushed for­ward by the Ot­ters Wa­ter polo Club, which year af­ter year has lob­bied for this nata­to­rium. Prior to this ad­min­is­tra­tion, they were ei­ther ig­nored or promised things that were never de­liv­ered. This ad­min­is­tra­tion prides it­self on do­ing things dif­fer­ently, and I can hap­pily state that their needs too will be ad­dressed. A cou­ple of weeks ago, we signed a Mem­o­ran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing to build a proper nata­to­rium. The main pool is ex­pected to be 33.3 me­tres long and 20 me­tres wide, large enough to be used for wa­ter polo matches and swim­ming lessons. It is also ex­pected to have a 400-seat stand. There will also be a sec­ond pool 10 me­tres long and 5 me­tres wide that can be used for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pur­poses.

This government takes a holis­tic ap­proach to any pro­posed project and makes ev­ery ef­fort pos­si­ble to max­i­mize the use of its re­sources. In line with this, the government will be re­serv­ing both pools for a set num­ber of hours each week, al­low­ing Goz­i­tan schoolchil­dren to use the larger pool as part of their phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion lessons. Th­ese fa­cil­i­ties will also be used by peo­ple with dis­abil­ity or in need of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion ser­vices.

We be­lieve that be­yond the so­cial, ed­u­ca­tional and sports ben­e­fits, this project will also have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the econ­omy. It will help foster new de­mands for sport tourism in Gozo and this, to­gether with other projects that are still in the pipe­line, will cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment con­duc­tive to sup­port this niche in­dus­try.

This fol­lows sev­eral im­por­tant achieve­ments which we al­ready at­tained dur­ing the last three years. A case in point is the Gozo Sports Fes­ti­val, which has at­tracted more than 12,000 vis­i­tors to Gozo. This out­stand­ing fes­ti­val was short-listed and won the Global Sports Tourism Sum­mit. It helped to fur­ther high­light the suc­cess that Gozo is achiev­ing in pro­mot­ing this unique niche mar­ket.

Step by step, this ad­min­is­tra­tion is de­liv­er­ing on all its prom­ises and looks for­ward to reach­ing its next goals.

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