GTA budget 2017 proposals include connectivity and niche markets
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The Gozo Tourism Association said that it has prepared a set of proposed measures for the upcoming budget, aimed to enhance the tourism sector in Gozo.
These proposals were presented to the Minister for Finance, the Minister for Gozo, the Minister for Tourism, and the Opposition Shadow Minister for Gozo.
Below are the salient measures by the Gozo Tourism Association listed in the aforementioned proposals:
"Allocation of funds for a another study to identify an alternative site for the construction of the airstrip other then the earmarked one at ta' Lambert.
A change in the ferry fare structure, with the introduction of a seasonal ticketing system by Gozo Channel as detailed below:
Low season fare January, February, November and December
Mid Season fare March, April, and May
High Season fare June, July, August, September and October
The Gozo Tourism Association is once again proposing that during the low and mid seasons all non-Gozitan passengers and vehicles crossings during the weekends are to be charged at rates relative to the Gozitan residents fare. GTA is therefore proposing that an increase on the current estimates the sum of €200,000 allocated for such a scheme to the Gozo Ministry, since this sum covers only four weekends.
The introduction of a Ferry Guaranteed boarding, a scheme intended to facilitate tourists connecting with incoming and outgoing flights, thus saving on lost overnights in the Gozitan accommodation.
In order to compensate for the termination of the Sa Maison Cargo service the Gozo Tourism Association is proposing that heavy transport vehicles that crosses over to Malta with the night trips will do so free of charge.
Provide redundancy in addition to three existing ferries, as a contingency for any breakdown to the present ferries, as well as to meet heavy demands during peak periods.
Fast track, the study and the PSO issue to introduce a fast ferry service to Valletta.
The setting up of a Shuttle service between MIA and Cirkewwa with the prime objective to minimise the transfer costs of the MIA-Cirkewwa sector.
Infrastructural investment in cruise ship berthing buoy off Xlendi Bay, a new buoy off Mgarr harbour, and Marsalforn in order to offer alternative berthing facilities around the West, North West and South coast of Gozo.
The setting up a Tourist Product Upkeep Unit, which will own, maintain, and manage several tourist spots like: the Qbajjar Promenade, the Three Hills Garden in Marsalforn, the Villa Rundle Gardens, Zewwieqa Waterfront, country walk paths, dive sites etc.
The development of sports facilities, including an athletics track and training camp facilities that can be incorporated in the Ta' Xhajma Race Track.
A subvention is to be allocated to the Cittadella Management Committee to continue with the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the newly restored Cittadella, until such time this same Management Committee finds alternative funds to sustain its remits.
3. NICHE MARKETS
A financial subvention is to be made available for the implementation of several actions advised in a three year marketing plan for Gozo Tourism commissioned by GTA in 2016.
The small conferences sponsored and/or organised by the Malta Government are to be held in Gozo.
A Public Private Partnership (PPP) project should be piloted and taken in hand by Government for the development of a centralised, well equipped Conference Centre on Gozo.
The Gozo Tourism Association urges all parties involved to reach an agreement between Government, the two Gozitan Opera theatres and other stakeholders, to establish an official opera season.
The GTA is proposing the setting up of a fund to enforce and manage the established marine protected areas in and around Gozo in order to increase marine life. This fund can be managed by the already established management committees of specific touristic resorts.
The drafting of Rural Tourism Policy and including Agri-tourism.
The implementation of the Diving Master Plan, by the Ministry for Gozo which was carried out through EU Co-financing way back in 2006 and up to date the actions proposed in this plan were never activated due to lack of funds.
2. THE PRODUCT
GTA urges Government to fast-forward the amendments to the Tourism Act (1999) in order to introduce the new measures as soon as possible and preferably by the end of this summer season 2016.
The introduction of a Variable Accommodation Vat rate for Gozitan Establishments as follows:
November to March 3%
April to October 7%
An accelerated depreciation rate on tourism accommodation upgrading and refurbishment including product development and operational infrastructure as well as energy generation/efficiency to cater for replacement every 5-7 years.
All types of accommodation having a swimming-pool and which are covered by an operating license issued by the Malta Tourism Authority, will be exempted from this of 15% increase on the swimming pool license fee, which increase was introduced two years ago.
A tailor-made Tourism Investment Support Scheme(TISS), to entice local entrepreneurs to upgrade their Gozitan tourist establishments. Such scheme can be financed and piloted by the Ministry for Gozo and in collaboration with the Ministry for Tourism, together with the active participation of the Gozo Tourism Association.
The upkeep on regular basis of the rural roads leading to self catering accommodation for easier access, especially during winter time.
4. HUMAN RESOURCES
Training schemes (practical and theoretical) during the winter months aimed at improving knowledge and skills in the tourism industry, including training in soft skills and languages, while encouraging retention of employees during off-peak months, sustained through grants coupled with employer and employee full NI Credit.
Scheme targeted towards new employees with MQF 5 level and over, residing in Gozo in micro touristic units, subject to credits on employers and employee NI for a period of three years.
More synergy between the ITS Gozo and the Gozo Tourism Association.
The NSO office in Gozo should have an allocation of funds for Gozo Specific Statistics including tourism and commuting patterns. This data should include tourism related figures together with other relevant data that constitutes the whole Gozitan tourism product."
The full GTA Budget 2017 document including the above proposals in more detail is also available in PDF format, and can be sent upon request from the Gozo Tourism Association.
Photograph by Alain Salvary