The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

Gozo Tourism Association calls on Transport Malta to reconsider exclusive Comino ferry tender

Wednesday, 22 January 2020, 13:25 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Gozo Tourism Association (GTA) has called on Transport Malta to reconsider a tender which allows the winning bidder exclusive use of the route from Marfa and Cirkewwa to Comino.

The GTA issued a statement reacting to news that the service from Marfa and Cirkewwa to Comino had been granted exclusively to one company as part of a tender issued by Transport Malta.

Irate operators, who would be forced out of using the route, took to social media to express their disgust at the news after they received a port notice about the tender, which will commence as of Friday.

The winning bidder – Comino Ferries Coop – meanwhile issued a statement on Tuesday saying that they were the sole bidder for the tender and that visitors stood to benefit from the new service and the investment – running to the tune of €5 million – being made.

The GTA however was less than enthusiastic about the tender, noting that it discriminates with many commercial vessel owners and operators.

“Through these directives as listed in this port notice, Transport Malta is creating a monopoly and thus discriminating with commercial vessels owners and operators many of which are Gozo based”, the GTA said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

“Furthermore, as specified in this aforementioned Port Notice, the operator who will be providing the scheduled passenger ferry service between Malta and Comino is being allocated the entirety of all landing quays in Cirkewwa, Marfa and around Comino”, the statement continued.

They said that these landing quays will, as per the Port Notice, be declared “Priority Landing Places” for the use of the chosen operator.

“This condition will be hindering the normal operation of the unscheduled sea transport services offered by the operators and owners, who up to now offered their boat transport services to a wide range of clientele including divers, conference and incentive groups, and other leisure services”, they said.

The GTA also expressed concern that if the landing quays of Marfa and Cirkewwa are not available at any time, Gozo might lose out on incentives and conferences groups that mostly cross to the sister Island through these landing places.

They said that they are therefore appealing to Transport Malta to reassess its position and “through its directives ensures a fair level playing field for all operators, and guarantees the right to all unscheduled licensed boat owners to embark/disembark at any time their clients from the landing quays mentioned earlier.”

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