The Malta Independent 22 March 2019, Friday

Why hit at Malta?

Alfred Sant Thursday, 21 February 2019, 07:45 Last update: about 28 days ago

I have been hugely shocked by the behaviour of the PN MEPs in the European Parliament. But I was not too surprised by it. Long years ago, during the 1980’s, I had seen the same thing happen in the Assembly of the Council of Europe. The PN’s calculations over this matter have not changed.

Abroad, discredit the Maltese Labour government so that at home, its popularity will fade. That did not happen then, even less has it happened today.

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Yet the PN’s MEPs have persisted with this game.

They argue that foreigners can read about what is happening in Malta and see it happen. So their behaviour abroad can hardly be influencing how foreign speakers react.

This is absolutely incorrect. When a country’s own representatives open fire on it, they encourage a wild and disproportionate response by others. This does not simply affect the government of the day; it also rebounds on the country as a whole... as happened in the eighties.

I still say: Criticise to your heart’s content your country’s government in your own country; but in your discourse abroad, stay prudent. Nationalist members of the European Parliament do not believe they should be prudent.

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Mellieħa Bay

News that the Mellieħa Bay Hotel is closing and will be rebuilt reminded me of what Mr Albert Mizzi once told me during a visit to my office. It was the story of how the hotel came to be built. He promoted the project as of the mid-1960’s and in doing so, showed an admirable sense of foresight.

He had been offered an option to buy land on one side of Mellieħa Bay at an interesting price but wished to do something different with it. This was when tourism had just started being introduced in Malta. He decided to contact the British tourism company Thompson and went to London to have discussions with them. He proposed that they become partners in a new hotel at Mellieħa to which they would then send their groups of holiday makers.

They showed interest in his proposal. Albert Mizzi took up the option. Thompson brought him into the project as a partner. The government granted the aids that were then in force to promote new projects. The hotel was built and started operations. Right from the start it was a success as Thompson continued to send its groups of holiday makers to it.

Today more than fifty years later, that hotel is going to be rebuilt.

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Marsascala

Meanwhile, the news has also been about the Djerma Hotel at Marsascala.  Once again the proposal is to build a hotel combined with luxury apartments for sale.

I am one of those who disagree that we should continue with such projects. A hotel should take shape as a hotel, period. Such a decision rule would ensure that we really move towards a higher quality tourism, and not allow the sale of apartments – effectively it’s the sale of Maltese land – to subsidize tourist stays in hotels.

Even so, one could argue that at Marsascala, a hotel built on a stand-alone basis cannot be viable as the area can no longer be considered a tourist destination. If this is the case, then the construction of a new hotel could be considered as a measure intended to bring tourism back to the southern region. The new Djerma hotel would be stimulating regional development and as such, it should be afforded direct financial aid, enabling it to proceed.

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