Interest shown in the Government's call for expressions of interest to build a cruise liner terminal and yacht marina in Gozo was much bigger than expected, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said this afternoon.

The Prime Minister, who was addressing the Gozo Regional Committee at Castille, did not elaborate but said his Government saw Gozo as a potential which could be worked upon.

The Government, he said, was giving a lot of consideration to the environmental and economic sensitivity of Gozo and it was aware that the key to everything was accessibility.

He said he knew that the committee was in favour of an airstrip and the Government would like to discuss the possibility. It would be conducting all the necessary studies to see how to improve accessibility in the short and medium term.

Dr Muscat said that a helicopter operator had expressed an interest in operating a helicopter service and talks were not concluded because “we do not want it to be chartered but on schedule… With a chartered service, we will be at the mercy of operators,” he said.

The Prime Minister said that another way of improving accessibility was by improving the service offered by Gozo Channel or introduce fast ferries. In the case of the latter, one would have to see how this would affect Gozo Channel.

He also mentioned the bridge feasibility study that was underway and said that the previous administration had requested EU financing for a study regarding a tunnel between the two islands.

“We thought it was a done deal that the EU funds were allocated but we found out that the EU had rejected Malta’s request.”

He said that a second request would be submitted by his Government in the coming weeks in the hope that it would be accepted.

The Government’s priority, Dr Muscat insisted, was to create jobs for Gozitans in Gozo and the Budget was to include a programme to help it achieve this aim.

It was also encouraging private investors to create jobs in Gozo and he would speak more clearly about this in the coming weeks

Michael Grech, who was representing a cross section of Gozitan society, said the Committee would like to see commitment towards the implementation of promises made to Gozitans.

Gozo should not be treated in an inferior manner to Malta. It faced its own challenges and problems and required different tactics and methods.

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