The Malta Independent 14 July 2024, Sunday
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ADPD calls for limits in tourism and a development ban on Comino

Saturday, 23 September 2023, 13:05 Last update: about 11 months ago

ADPD the Green Party said Saturday that the number of tourists visiting our country should be sustainable and that we have the infrastructure that can accommodate this influx, while insisting that there should be no development on Comino, because Comino is a protected area.

ADPD Secretary General and candidate for the European Parliament Ralph Cassar said that tourism statistics published this year show that we have almost reached pre-Covid level. We want to ensure that the numbers are sustainable for the country - a country that already has the highest population density in the EU should not end up suffering the impacts of too many tourists. It is obvious that we are not able to cope with the numbers. There should be a limit in all economic sectors, including in tourism.

It is useless for government to boast about the number of tourists, but then it is obvious that the infrastructure cannot support them, the bus service is choc a bloc, and essential services such as an adequate waste collection system and a sewage system that can cope with the sharp increase in tourist numbers are lacking. All this leads to a rather bitter experience to those who decided to spend their holiday here in Malta if they get stuck in polluting traffic, see rubbish piling on our already inadequate pavements and our seas overflowing with sewage. We need limits, to establish how much the country can support and focus on the quality of the product, especially in view of the fact that we are surrounded by direct competitors within the region that can offer a better and cheaper experience.

Unfortunately we are still in that stage where the ultimate goal is tourist numbers – the more tourists the better. This is a totally wrong and shortsighted mentality which does not take into consideration the impact such huge numbers are creating. The number of tourists and beds need to be reduced, certainly not increased. There is no need to build more hotels or for more floors to be added to existing hotels. The collection, cleaning, law enforcement when it comes to wastemust be paid by the tourist. This is nothing new, it is totally normal in other countries.

There is already an eco-contribution that goes to the MTA to 'beautify tourist areas'. This contribution instead of being wasted by the MTA should be divided between the regions and local councils in proportion to the size of the localities and according to the number of tourist beds and attractions in the localities.

The amount of contribution from each tourist is currently ridiculous: 50 cents per night up to a maximum of 5 Euros. This limit should be abolished: it is only fair that the longer you stay here, the more you pay for services and infrastructure. And 50 cents is simply risible; 1 or 2 Euros per day per person makes more sense. The actual amount of the contribution is up for discussion but it should definitely be spent on additional services in our localities, Cassar concluded.

ADPD-The Green Party Chairperson and candidate for the European Parliament, Sandra Gauci said that Comino is a symbol of what is wrong with the government's tourism policy. When the only solution that the Minister for Tourism has for protecting Comino is ‘less deckchairs will mean less tourists it is obvious that the Minister does not have the vision of how a Natura 2000 site like Comino should be managed. The lack of will by this government to properly protect Comino is evident especially when it ignores people’s anger regarding the massive influx of tourists that the small island certainly cannot take.

As ADPD we have always been and remain against any development on Comino. It should be kept as a natural heritage site and not used for speculative purposes. The protection and good management of this natural heritage should take priority over the needs of those who want to make money at the expense of Comino’s protection.

Gauci went on to say that the conflict of interest that the minister has because relatives of his run businesses on Comino indicate that the minister is putting his personal interests before those of everyone elseThe fact that speculators like Hili want to build not just a hotel but also shops reveals the intent that even an uninhabited island like Comino will follow the path of Malta and Gozo and be sacrificed on the altar of speculation and construction, when in fact there is neither need nor necessity for this development. The Minister for the Environment is particularly silent on this issues. Miriam Dalli has the duty to see that Comino is protected and managed well, to protect the island from any form of speculation and to stand up to Minister Bartolo and take a clear position in favour of Comino.

There is clearly a need for a cap on the number of visitors to Comino. The reduction of the amount of deckchairs - an unkept promise following a 2022 protest - is nothing but a smokescreen. Comino is a protected island and government should see that it is properly managed, dismiss any attempt at property speculation, and ensure that it does not become a money-making machine for friends of friends, concluded Gauci.

 

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