Protecting Gozo from over development
Published on the Malta Independent on Monday 12th April, 2010 by Alex Tyrell.
I refer to a speech by parliamentary secretary Mario De Marco who spoke of the possibility of innovation and sustainable tourism remaining buzzwords, yet as we are already aware of, many people are now describing the Eco-Gozo concept as nothing more than a buzzword.
Everything you say in the piece in The Malta Independent is true but the one thing you do not mention is that the best way to retain and in fact build a long-term future in Maltese tourism is to play to your strengths. In many ways I see the main island of Malta as being a lost cause due to overdevelopment but I think there is at least a chance for Gozo if it is treated properly.
I come to Gozo every year and have been doing so for a long time now. Initially I think I looked at the island through rose tinted glasses and could see no wrong, however as my interest in the island grew I started to see its strengths and weaknesses. Its main strength is its natural beauty and the fact that it’s cut off from the hustle and bustle of the main island.
There is hardly a week that goes by now without someone raising the subject of an airstrip on Gozo and usually when this happens it is said to be essential for the growth of tourism. Don’t these people realise that an airstrip on the island with planes buzzing around the place all day would destroy the very thing that tourists cherish about Gozo?
I have in the past used the helicopter as a means of getting to Gozo but I have to say that I understand the reason why it is no longer in operation. At times the only people on it were my partner and I. To be honest I enjoy the trip to Gozo on the ferry, as I tend to see it as a sort of transition between normal working life and the beginning of my holiday. It’s a very relaxing way to arrive. So, speaking as a tourist, I would see an airstrip as the beginning of the end.
There has also been talk of building a marina at Hondoq, which again would be a crazy thing to do from a tourist standpoint. Hondoq is and always has been a meeting place for Gozitans, Maltese people and tourists alike. Many times Hondoq is the only place on the island where you can enjoy a swim in beautiful, calm, crystal clear waters. If a marina were built there it would destroy the area forever.
If the Eco-Gozo concept is ever going to become a reality then everything must be done to protect the island from further development and to encompass a concept of Eco-tourism, which would provide employment for the Gozitan people and allow the island to grow.