The Malta Independent 4 August 2020, Tuesday

Attractions to open for free, CVA parking fees suspended as government aims to revive Valletta

Karl Azzopardi Friday, 19 June 2020, 14:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The government is investing €750,000 over the summer period in order to breathe life back into Malta’s capital city, it was announced today.

“I am a firm believer that Valletta was the hardest hit area during the Covid-19 pandemic with regard to commerce,” said chairperson of the Valletta Cultural Agency Jason Micallef.

“Over €350 million have been invested in our city (whocj was the European capital during 2018) and it would be irresponsible of us to not do something about it.”

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In light of this, the agency alongside other stakeholders including the Tourism Ministry, Culture Ministry and Transport Ministry have been going through a series of discussions on a project that will span over the summer period to promoted local tourism.

Micallef explained that one of the things on the list will be the suspension of licence fees for tables and chairs for all businesses in Valletta for the rest of the next three months.

Parliamentary Secretary Chris Agius said that with Covid-19 businesses were struggling but the government has helped greatly with its financial packages and will continue to do so through this measure.

Micallef went on to say that, for the month of July, central attractions in the city such as museums and forts will be opening their doors free of charge for long hours that stretch into the the night.

Throughout the month of July, with the help of Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna, people will also get the opportunity to go on guided tours around attractions like the Upper Barrakka Gardens, the Saluting Batteries, the War Headquarters Tunnels and the Lascaris War Rooms, also free of charge.

Measures relating to transport will also be introduced. This includes the removal of Controlled Vehicle Assessment (CVA) fees when parking within the city itself, which Transport Minister Ian Borg said will cost the state over €200,000.

Additionally, throughout the months of July and August, ferry connections between Valletta and Sliema or Cottonera will be free of charge from 6pm till 12am.

On top of all this, the agency in collaboration with Arts Council Malta and Festivals Malta, will be hosting three free events per week throughout the summer that vary from musical festivals, to the Valletta Pageant of the Seas, street art exhibitions and performance arts.

Finally, from 1 July till the end of September, Valletta will be given a festive appearance through lighting, flags and pavilions while 11 Maltese bands – 2 of which based in Valletta – will take it to the main streets of the city to entertain the public through the summer period.

“This socio-economic plan is being estimated to cost the state around €750 million in total for the period of 3 months,” Micallef concluded.

Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli said that Valletta is one of the first places that tourists come to visit so it only made sense to go through this process to revitalise the city. “When we analyse statistics the tourists look for accommodation in this area so it is our duty to give them a taste of our culture.”

Tourism Minister José Herrera explained that the government’s vision of Valletta was always for it to not remain the silent city it was prior to the PL in government since the capital city of every other country is the centre of culture and commerce.

He said that Valletta was dependant on cruise liners, the courts and other businesses and institution that had to close down because of the pandemic which took a serious toll on the city. However, he believes that this can be amended by investing greatly in Malta’s cultural experience including food, dance and art.

He thanked all the ministries for help saying that there is a sense friendship among them that keeps them coordinating harmoniously together.

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