The Malta Independent 27 February 2021, Saturday

‘COVID-19 will not kill Christmas’: government announces Christmas in the City

Karl Azzopardi Monday, 9 November 2020, 11:08 Last update: about 5 months ago

“COVID-19 will not kill Christmas,” said Valletta Cultural Agency Chairman Jason Micallef today during the government’s launch of ’Christmas in the City’ in Valletta; a month long activity programme to keep the Christmas spirit and the capital city alive during the upcoming season.

During her address, Tourism Minster Julia Farrugia Portelli said that that during these extraordinary times the ministry, with the Malta Tourism Authority, has been hard at work to find ways of supporting the industry in a regulated manner. This includes keeping Malta’s capital alive as it is a main attractor of tourism and a major hub for the hospitality industry.

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Farrugia Portelli said that with this initiative the ministry would like to promote more local tourism, starting with a €50,000 investment by the MTA which will allow free public access to the MCP carpark in Valletta starting from 8 December till the end of the year.

MTA Chairman Gavin Gulia explained that Valletta has transformed itself into a distinct location from other cities in Malta due to its history as well as its hospitality establishments, including 2 to 5-star hotels and also guest houses. With this in mind, the MTA is doing what it can to make the city more accessible to the public.

Apart from this initiative aimed at making the city more accessible to the public, ‘Christmas in the City’ will bring a whole programme of activities which will start from 20 November till the end of the year.

“Covid-19 will not kill Christmas. We want to ensure that the Christmas spirit stays alive,” said Micallef said, while describing what one can expect from this program of activities.

The city will be adorned with lights across a number of areas, including Merchant Street, Republic Street as well as St George’s Square which will have a decorative projection on its façade and a nativity scene. A crib will also be set up in La Vallette Square too.

The programme also includes three types of activities that vary from children's choirs as well as adult ones, an opera show by locally and internationally renowned singer Nico Darmanin and other activities spread throughout the city.

Micallef emphasised that the programme will not include any mass events. In fact, the agency will be announcing a controlled version of its annual event for the new year.

There are also ongoing discussions among stakeholders to extend opening times for retail outlets in order to promote commerce during this festive season.

Arts Minister José Herrera pointed out that this project shows the importance of a collaborative government seeing that both the Tourism Ministry and his ministry share a common goal: marketing Malta.

“The creative and arts sector is undeniably suffering the most during this pandemic as it depends on interaction which is not possible at the moment. This industry forms 7% of our GDP, thus it is my responsibility to find ways that will keep this industry on its feet. It is not enough to give handouts, we have to keep creative included in such projects.”

Having said this, he said that the government’s absolute priority will always be public health and if protocols change, so will the programme.

 

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