Gozo Minister Anton Refalo yesterday ruled out building a yacht marina and a cruise liner terminal at Ħondoq ir-Rummien Bay.

Dr Refalo made the announcement during a news conference in Mġarr Harbour when he gave details about the international call to build a marina and cruise liner terminal, which was issued by the Government on June 28 and closes at the end of September.

There are no cruise liner facilities in Gozo and the Government wants to attract small to medium-sized ships in a bid to stimulate the Gozitan economy.

In 2002, Qala residents protested against the Qala Creek project that included a yacht marina, a five-star hotel, apartments, villas and timeshare units at nearby Ħondoq.

At the time, the local council, which had taken a stand against the project, held a referendum and the residents overwhelmingly voted against the development.

Dr Refalo said that the initial feedback had been positive. They had already received enquiries from 12 companies in Sweden, Spain, Greece and Turkey.

Though insisting there was no preferred site, he hinted that the Government would favourably consider a proposal for a marina in Marsalforn, saying the site had “huge potential”.

The most obvious choice for the cruise liner terminal is Mġarr Harbour, being the only major port in Gozo.

So far, the only significant investment in the cruise liner industry in Gozo was a buoy that was laid off Xlendi in 2010. However, the project, which cost €238,000, was initially hampered by technical problems and it later transpired that the buoy was too close to the coast.

The Xlendi buoy has failed to have any positive impact on the tourism industry in Gozo and the handful of cruise liners that visit the island have to anchor outside Mġarr Harbour.

Last year, about 3,000 tourists visited Gozo aboard liners, in sharp contrast with Malta where arrivals totalled 608,000.

Dr Refalo said that the Government was committed to complete the project by the end of the legislature.

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