Sicily, the new hub – The Malta Independent



For many decades Malta lived in fear of what would happen to our thriving tourism industry if Sicily decided to step it up and invest in the infrastructure and numbers of its tourism product. We knew our product couldn’t really compete with the authentic lifestyle and ancient culture next door to us. In the culinary field alone, we knew that our restaurants were more expensive and far from the quality to be enjoyed on the shores of Syracuse, Cefalu or in the historic cities of Palermo, Agrigento, Catania and the class of Taormina.

Unlike the ravage of our souls here in Malta and Gozo, with construction going everywhere and in every direction, Sicily has kept tight control over preservation and avoided giving away valuable land to speculators. It could also be that the Mafia interfered in the “normal” market forces by selling land and driving up permits to such an extent that it was not possible or desired to become involved in such an enterprise. Infrastructure is also lacking in many places. In some places, a road would first have to be built to bring in the machinery.

It also diminishes the value old families place on land ownership. Those who have it don’t let go easily. Their history and their identity are often linked to the lands they own and exploit for their own purpose, that of agricultural production, vines and olive trees.

In medieval times, much of the land in the Maltese Islands was held in fiefdoms of Sicilian merchants.

Investigative journalist Victor Paul Borg delves into the Cosmana Navarro property rights case which is causing much grief in Gozo. He says it all started in the 15th century when two members of the Navarre family followed King Martin I from their home in Spain to Sicily. One of them, Andrea Navarra, later emigrated to Malta and would have been appointed governor of Gozo.

It is unclear whether the Cosmana land in Gozo, which was put into the foundation, was acquired at this time.

Wherever the current ownership comes from, compare how we in Malta and Gozo seek to exploit every crack possible to turn a quiet countryside or 400 year old farmhouse into cash by favored developers. These developers don’t care that land is rapidly disappearing on our islands and people are out of breath or looking for skies that were once blue. For them, the Ragusa Marina is a stopover and a short crossing in their luxurious cruise ships means they can enjoy a lunch of fresh fish, drink wine and impress their girlfriends or potential Tinder connections, then return to Marina of Valletta and Birgu without any problems.

Not for them the passage of 4 hours in the queue to take the Cirkewwa ferry on the eve of the long bank holiday weekend. After destroying Xlendi and descending on the peaceful villages of Gozo with their condominiums with swimming pools, in the shape of a shell or with high-end finishes with views of the canal or the cliffs of Ta’Cenc, they calmly consult the weather and set their course on Sicily.

Other Maltese tourists who are tired of the noise and crowds in Gozo over a long weekend, or who want to leverage vacation rentals from their investment, will board a Virtu ferry and cruise around the attractions of the Sicily, from Mount Etna to shopping. at the points of sale in Catania.

It has also not gone unnoticed that prices in Sicily are cheaper than in Malta. Henri Saliba, managing director of Virtu Ferries, said there was a significant growth in interest in freight services.

“There has certainly been a surge of interest in Sicily from local retailers, importers and SMEs to serve their customers at a cheaper rate and with faster delivery,” Saliba said.

“It makes sense given the price hikes on everyone’s lips and also the problems with delivery delays, not only for food, but also in all areas, and even for car parts, for example.”

A simple comparison of the prices of Lidl in Malta and that in Sicily will immediately confirm that the prices in Sicily are cheaper. Doing a bulk purchase at Lidl in Sicily bypasses the container shipping costs that remain high in Sicily as they are controlled by the monopolies there and goes straight to a kind of online shopping experience with low delivery costs via the fast ferry included.

But it seems that the intention to empty all developments on Malta and Gozo while keeping Sicily untouched for Maltese tourists has become the trend. The interest of the Italians is cultivated with the marina project in Marsascala and the airstrip project in Gozo for light aircraft. Owning a light aircraft will soon become the next fad here as Italian businessmen come and go to meet Prime Minister or Minister Ian Borg.

The tunnel was likely abandoned in favor of a higher-end, faster-to-build airstrip. The many apartments sold in Gozo will still need to be reunited with their rentals or owners, so another ferry will be needed to meet demand at ground level.

Everything seems in place to make Sicily the new hub. Many Maltese are already considering buying property there, if they haven’t already.

When will people realize that Malta and Gozo have been ruined for them while Robert Abela strolls the pontoon in Ragusa and enjoys his ice cream?

What will the new Maltese rich do in Sicily? Will they be greeted like well-to-do tourists or will sarcastic remarks accompany them behind their backs? Even a Sicilian ice cream man considers himself above the Maltese peasants. On our side, loyalty and national pride are not at the forefront of our interests. The most important thing is that we can have a good meal, impress our friends and laugh all the way to the bank.

We all know the risks of doing business in Sicily. Bank of Valletta has just lost the Deiulemar case for a deposit of 363 million euros and will appeal. It’s Torre del Greco in Naples not Sicily but shares similar business profiles.

A Maltese saying goes, think twice and cut once.

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