The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Minister slams illegal restaurants and kiosks

Malta Independent Tuesday, 15 July 2014, 13:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

Tourism Minister Edward Zammit-Lewis has come out against restaurants and kiosks operating illegally on beaches, however was not fully aware of the situation at Mgarr ix-Xini, Gozo.

When asked what he thinks of the situation regarding the illegal Xini beach restaurant, the Minister chose to speak generally rather than focus his answer on that particular circumstance. “My position is clear, those businesses that operate illegally will not receive my support or that of the Prime Minister,” he told The Malta Independent.

Last Sunday, this newspaper revealed that the fish restaurant illegally operating at Mgarr ix-Xini is to receive payment from the producers of the ‘blockbuster’ film featuring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The restaurant will be forced to shut down during filming as the beach will be closed off from both land and sea.

The Minister is taking steps to promote organised and legally licensed tourism in order for Malta to keep its high standards.

Minister Zammit-Lewis was not part of the agreement made between the producers and that of the illegal Xini bay restaurant. “In fact I didn’t know about it,” he said.

A MEPA enforcement notice on the site has been in place since 2007 and is currently “pending direct action”.

In passing comments, Sandra Vella, operator of the restaurant, said that she would make more money if the restaurant were to remain open, however was forced to take the offer.

Authorities are not doing their job - NTM

Nature Trust Malta (NTM) President Vincent Attard was surprised by the situation as an enforcement notice is in place “and yet she is shockingly being paid compensation for having to close down for a couple of months”.

The NTM President believes that the relevant authorities are failing to enforce these types of situations.  “Years pass after a notice is issued and no significant action is taken. People continue to grab land, enforcement is non-existent and it’s a shame that the authorities are not doing their job,” he said.

The NGO President argued that if there was real political commitment to support nature then law enforcement officers would be more involved and would declare that damage to the environment is no longer tolerable. “If nothing is done, then other people will copy these examples”.

Flimkien ghall-Ambjen Ahjar Coordinator Astrid Vella said that such abusive structures not only cause ecological abuse in a site as sensitive as Mgar ix-Xini, but also social injustice and economic abuse by occupying land without paying the public. “This constitutes unfair competition towards the honest entrepreneurs who pay their full dues”. 

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