Robert Arrigo, a key figure in Malta’s tourism sector as founder of Robert Arrigo & Sons and a popular politician with the Nationalist Party, has passed away at the age of 67.
The news was announced on Tuesday (today) morning.
Mr Arrigo was elected as the first mayor of Sliema in 1994, confirmed with ever higher numbers of votes in 1997, 2000, and 2003.
Later on in 2003, he was elected to Parliament. In 2013, following the PN’s historic electoral loss, he was appointed Shadow Minister for Tourism, a role he served until his death.
He was also Deputy Leader of the PN until earlier this year.
Mr Arrigo had been vocal about his health issues, as he struggled with cancer in the last months of his life. Over the past months, he had been undergoing chemotherapy.
As a major tourism player, Mr Arrigo’s incoming destination management businesses was a key partner to hoteliers around the country, attracting tourists from around the world by promoting Malta and its attractions.
The company continues to be managed by his children, one of whom, Alan Arrigo, currently serves as chairperson of The Malta Chamber’s tourism operators section.
‘You will be remembered’
Opposition and Nationalist Party Leader Bernard Grech took to Facebook to mark the former Deputy Leader’s passing.
“Thank you, Robert, for your sacrifice and work within the PN,” he said.
“You will be remembered for your valuable contributions, your loyalty towards the Party, and above all, for the love you had for this nation.”
He said that Mr Arrigo had been to the PN headquarters just a few days ago to speak “passionately”, despite his difficulties, about the sector he represented.
‘I learned a lot from him’
Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo expressed his “deep sorrow” at the news of his counterpart’s death, noting that their political differences had never gotten in the way of respect and maturity in their discussions about the important sector.
“Robert and I always worked to keep political tribalism far away from tourism,” he said.
“I learned a lot from a person who will continue to be remembered as a pioneer throughout the last 50 years in Malta’s tourism industry.”
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