The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Stop mixing hotel permits with apartments – Alfred Sant

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 8 October 2019, 10:09 Last update: about 7 days ago

If Malta really wants its tourism industry to be of good quality, then Malta needs to ensure that ‘building permits for hotels are solely for hotels and do not also include apartments,’ Former Prime Minister and MEP Alfred Sant said in a Facebook post.

Sant's statement can be seen as a word of advice and a critique of the Planning Authority, which has final say when it comes to the approval or refusal of planning permits. The Malta Independent contacted Sant to expand further on his statement.

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“Malta’s tourism industry is now a mature sector and the argument rightly is that we are approaching the saturation point, since over the years, even what used to be shoulder months by way of tourism arrivals have now been filling up.” He said that environmental and ‘overcrowding’ problems are multiplying, and that he agrees that tourism must go up market and rely much less on the mass market.

“It is not a question of abruptly dropping the latter, but of ensuring that the new projects that get approved must, apart from other considerations, concern the upgrading of existing hotel units and the approval of only upmarket new hotels.” He said that in high profile tourism areas, a long established custom has been to give the go-ahead to projects which mix real estate developments (offices, apartments) with hotel concessions.

 “The former through sales and rentals bring in easier cash and cross subsidize the hotel part, finding it easier and still profitable to shift to a mass market profile.” He said that if one were to eliminate this aspect of mixing real estate developments and hotel concessions, this would limit the stock of new hotel rooms and ensure that when they do go ahead, they will really need to cater to upmarket business in order to thrive.

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