The Gozo Tourism Association is "perplexed" by the planning authority’s decision to ignore a request by mayors to meet over concerns that the island is being ruined by construction.

In a rare instance of unity, mayors from both political parties have joined forces to caution against irresponsible development they see as ruining Gozo. Earlier this week they told Times of Malta that the planning authority had “completely ignored” a request for a meeting.

Last October, PA data showed the number of approved new dwellings in Gozo increased six-fold over five years, up from 281 new developments in 2015 to a staggering 1,754 in 2019, with Qala boasting the highest growth of 229 new properties in one year.

In a statement on Friday, GTA said it was backing the mayors, adding that the PA was failing Gozo.

"The PA’s vision is 'to make Malta and Gozo a more pleasant and desirable place to live in'. Is the PA living up to this aim when it comes to Gozo?

"In its mission statement, the PA declares that it will be 'acting on behalf of the community to provide a balanced and sustainable environment'. Is this being achieved by not meeting Gozitan mayors who are the elected representatives of the whole Gozitan community," it asked.

The association said that the island's rural character was the selling point for tourists.

"Fifty years ago, tourism stakeholders started restoring and converting old derelict buildings in the countryside into modern accommodation (farmhouses).

"Those brave pioneers opted for restoration versus destruction. They set an example of how to introduce a new type of accommodation... without jeopardising the soul of our island," the association said, adding that similarly, houses of character were recently turned into boutique hotels.

GTA said it was in favour of sustainable and well-planned development that respected the island's characteristics.

"These same characteristics are not being protected by those who are entrusted to do so. The PA is failing Gozo and in the process killing the goose that lays the golden egg."

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