Johann Buttigieg is to step down as Malta Tourism Authority chief executive after three years in the role, the tourism minister has confirmed to Times of Malta.

Clayton Bartolo said the resignation came after an agreement was reached with Buttigieg. He did not give any reason for the move.

Government sources told Times of Malta that Buttigieg was asked to move on by Bartolo earlier this week.  

Asked about this, Bartolo said the decision was reached after discussions between the two. 

Clayton Bartolo says Johann Buttigieg is out. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

The minister said the former CEO would hold no other position within the tourism authority or the ministry. 

Bartolo did not give any reason for the resignation and when asked if he was unhappy with Buttigieg in the role and reiterated that the pair had reached an agreement. 

It is understood that Buttigieg has already informed staff at the MTA that he will soon be leaving the authority.  

When contacted on Wednesday, Buttigieg insisted he had not resigned from his post, but did not say he was staying on either. 

He would not confirm whether he had been asked to renounce his position.  

Instead, he said that that authority would be “issuing a statement in the coming days”.

Sources said Buttigieg and Bartolo have not seen eye-to-eye over a number of issues in recent months.  

Yorgen Fenech connections

Buttigieg has in recent years been a central figure in Labour circles and is himself no stranger to controversy, including calls for his resignation over links to alleged murderer Yorgen Fenech

In March 2021, Times of Malta reported how Buttigieg had expressed a willingness to do business with Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech in Whatsapp messages between the pair in 2019.

He faced calls for his resignation from activists and lobby groups as well as the Nationalist Party.

Looming Labour figure

He was made the Planning Authority’s chief executive through a direct appointment in June 2013 shortly after the PL was first returned to power. 

Less than one year later, his designation was changed to executive chairman and his salary was increased by more than €20,000 a year.

Prior to 2013, Buttigieg had been a case officer with what was then known as the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. 

As head of the PA, he oversaw the demerger of what was previously known as Mepa, with environmental oversight duties hived off into the newly-created Environment and Resources Authority.

He had faced criticism over a number of large-scale developments, and notably, his decision to fly in a PA board member who voted in favour of a controversial development in Pembroke. 

In 2019 he moved from the PA to the MTA which at the time was under the political responsibility of then minister Konrad Mizzi.

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