The Malta Independent 21 November 2018, Wednesday

The Malta Independent Online

Malta Independent Sunday, 29 October 2006, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

Now it’s Marsascala’s turn to be deprived of major tourist accommodation by well-known speculators/developers who are snapping up prime sited tourist hotels and tourist complexes facing difficulties, or are in need of refurbishment.

Instead of helping the nation by improving our tourist product and refurbishing these hotels and tourist complexes, these developers demolish them to build luxury private residences. Not content with depriving present and future generations of many fine buildings, seaside and countryside locations, these speculators are now exploiting these usually outside development sites, which were initially sacrificed only because we needed to offer competitive and high quality tourist accommodation. Is this right? Can tourism in Malta afford such blows?

Moreover, these developers almost always get away with an incredible increase in the originally built footprint!

Some prime hotels and tourist villages in Malta and Gozo are already history. In fact, in Marsascala, Ta’ Monita` tourist complex is no more and soon Jerma Palace Hotel will follow suit, some say as early as next March. As for Ta’ Monita’, a high-rise tower is said to be on plan. Why not stick to the original two/three storey skyline? Why are they allowed to endanger our heritage? Why dig and build right next to the foundations of the 1715 Briconet Redoubt? The Briconet Redoubt is one of the best-preserved redoubts in Malta and is currently used as the Marsascala Police Station.

In our case, this is probably the result of poor Marsascala being “branded” as a no-go tourist zone, earmarked only as a lowly area condemned to have a probably illegal waste recycling plant, a drainage purification plant and all present and future large scale fish farming industry.

One will never be able to grasp the logic behind these decisions concerning such an idyllic picturesque seaside village, nor forgive the decision takers! This is surely the death knell for tourism in Marsascala, the final nail in the coffin unless there is more to come following the Smart City cum luxury villas project just round the corner

The least the authorities can do for Marsascala and its residents, and also for all the Maltese Islands, is to come up with urgently, much needed laws or regulations whereby such sites, starting with the Jerma Palace itself, will not be allowed a change of use/permit. If such tourist enterprises fail and no entrepreneur is interested then the site must be returned to its original natural state to be enjoyed again by the people and not to add more millions to already fat bank accounts. Perhaps better times may come and another hotel could be built in the vacant site in the future.

Furthermore, in this particular case, the government must see that if the Jerma does unfortunately make way for private residences then at least, the sizeable piece of flat rock peninsula at the back of the Jerma must revert back to the people, MEPA please note.

This sizeable rock peninsula, known since ancient times as il-Gzira, was not initially part of the Jerma but was cordoned off (probably illegally) by the hotel operators despite strong protests made by residents at the time. It is pertinent to point out that il-Gzira also housed unique seaside Roman Baths. One hopes they were not obliterated.

Joe Chetcuti

MARSASCALA

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