The Gozo Tourism Association (GTA) has reacted to what has been described as “a Budget of prioritisation”- that is, one that lacks meaningful measures addressing sectoral concerns – by acknowledging that the Government Budget for 2024 was prepared “during a particular time” characterised by high inflation.
“Thus, the Gozo Tourism Association understands that this a Budget that in the short term ensures the sustainability of business activity, as well as the wellbeing of the low-income earners, pensioners and workers battling to keep up with the rising cost of living,” it said.
Noting that the measures announced on Monday evening aim to cushion the impact of economic challenges while safeguarding and sustaining economic growth, the GTA welcomed the continuation of subsidies on the cost of energy and cereals: “These measures will assist not only families, but will keep businesses that would be otherwise crippled by rising costs afloat.”
Turning to the question of Gozo, the GTA welcomed measures aimed at addressing overdevelopment in Gozo. These include the abolition of the reduced stamp duty incentive on the purchase of properties outside Urban Conservation Areas (UCA) and the increase in the first-time buyers’ grant for those who purchase property in Gozo that is vacant or in UCA from €30,000 to €40,000.
However, the GTA stated that the Budget “should have included more measures that steer Gozo towards economic prosperity, whilst protecting the island’s unique characteristics.”
Regarding tourism, the 2024 Budget announces the extension of a scheme meant to attract long-stay tourists to Gozo in the shoulder months. Through this measure, tourists staying at eligible accommodation for at least 10 nights between November and March receive a 30 per cent discount on their booking, up to a maximum of €300.
The Gozitan tourism product also stands to gain from the €58 million being allocated to Gozo from the Sustainable Urban Development Fund.
Other measures affecting the Gozitan touristic sector refer to inter-island connectivity, including the mention of the rural airfield in Xewkija. However, the GTA noted that there was “no mention whatsoever” regarding the investment for a new fourth ferry for the Gozo Channel Fleet.
There was similarly no mention on the ring fencing of the eco-contribution funds collected from Gozitan accommodation establishments in order to be invested directly for tourism projects on Gozo.
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