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Ahead of the upcoming 26th March general election, Gozo’s Business Chamber has laid out key priorities it believes must be addressed to advance the sister island’s economy without compromising its unique selling points.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Gozo now more than ever needs to diversify its economy. Its inherenet structural economic problems have been significantly exposed by the pandemic showing its overreliance on sectors such as tourism, construction and real estate.

“While the Chamber‘s document is focusing on key priority areas for Gozo, this must not in any way divert the attention from important points of action on which any party in government should continue to focus, mainly strengthening the country’s governance and justice system, and removing Malta from the grey list.”

Overview of the Gozo Business Chamber’s key priorities for the next legislature

Accessibility

Accessibility remains key if we are to see Gozo move forward in the coming years, the Chamber said. In its view, strategic and priority areas in this direction include:

• The subsea tunnel between Gozo and Malta.

• A more modern and cleaner ferry to substitute the present fourth ferry operating between the two islands.

• Regulating the present fast ferry service between the two islands to ensure that the level of service is maintained.

• A Rural Airfield for Gozo.

• Ensuring that the Port of Mġarr is expanded to cater for all the types of maritime services between the two islands.

• Ensuring the adequate transport of goods through dedicated maritime links between the two islands. Other points on the main island of Malta besides Ċirkewwa should also be considered.

The Environment

One of Gozo’s key priority areas should remain the environment, the Chamber insists. “Gozo’s natural offering is one of its key selling points. Nonetheless the rampant construction and the lack of adequate design and planning policies have severely damaged substantial parts of the island.”

The key priority areas outlined by the Chamber include:

• Specific regional planning, spatial and design policies for Gozo.

• Gozo achieving carbon neutrality prior to Malta creating a strong basis for the creation of a green economy on the island through projects and initiatives which create added value to the Gozo and national economy.

• Gozo acting as a test bed for the deployment of new technologies targeted towards reducing the carbon impact on the whole nation.

• Linking effectively research with the green economy in Gozo.

Essential Infrastructural Projects for Gozo

Similarly to the discourse on the subsea tunnel, the Chamber considers that there are important infrastructural projects which are necessary for the island of Gozo to continue to move forward. These, it says, should include:

• Parking facilities in Victoria.

• The construction of the Marsalforn Breakwater.

• A new hospital for Gozo.

Digitalisation

“Digitalisation should be a key enabler that should see Gozo creating economic niches which on the main island of Malta have already taken shape.”

In this regard, the Chamber calls for the following priorities:

• A clear strategy for the setting up and development of the Digital Economy in Gozo.

• A specific investment incentive package targeted towards companies in the digital sector setting up in Gozo.

Tourism

Efforts in this sector need to focus not only on marketing but also on strengthening the tourism product, especially in niches which in Gozo have showed significant potential for growth, the Chamber says.

These include niches such as sustainable, walking, cultural and religious tourism. The key priorities in this area should include:

• Clear Strategy and Actions to attract foreign inbound tourism.

• Clear Actions to strengthen specific tourism niches in Gozo.

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