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Hotel Or Seaside Apartments? Farsons CEO Casts Serious Doubt Over Joseph Portelli’s Xlendi Plans

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Farsons CEO Norman Aquilina has questioned the logic behind developer Joseph Portelli’s plan to build a 14-storey hotel in Xlendi Bay, suggesting it could eventually be converted into seafront apartments.

Aquilina referred to a recent study by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) which flagged a serious problem of oversupply with regards to beds for tourists.

It found that if all planned tourism projects are implemented within the next five years, Malta will need to attract 4.7 million tourists a year staying an average of just under seven nights each to maintain the same bed occupancy rate as it did in 2019, the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has said Malta won’t be able to take in so many tourists, while business lobbyist Philip Fenech has predicted that some hospitality businesses will end up collapsing.

“Just when the Tourism Minister assertively stated that Malta would not be able to handle the number of tourists needed to fill hotels that are in operation or in the pipeline, we simultaneously hear of yet another hotel development – an application for the development of a 14-floor hotel on the Xlendi seafront,” Aquilina said.

Besides the issue of oversupply, the businessman also warned Portelli’s project could severely impact nearby protected Natura 2000 sites and said the Planning Authority should reject the application on these grounds.

“But wait, did I hear someone say quality over quantity or are we simply living in a world of contradictions?” he questioned.

“With supply growingly outpacing demand, would such a ‘development’ potentially end up being converted into seafront apartments built on a (dis)guised hotel permit? One wonders.”

“And beyond this, while the Environment Minister correctly argues that what we want are green lungs, not shopping centres, a quick glance around us clearly shows the state of affairs.”

“The sooner we all start to see the bigger picture, the better. We all need to understand that the environment is everyone’s responsibility to protect, even if this needs to start with our policy makers.”

“The best investment in our environment is that of preserving and protecting it and not in developing, or should we say, over-developing it.”

Portelli’s proposal outlines the construction of a 4-star hotel, with 88 rooms, including ancillary facilities and an underground parking area. 

The hotel will be on four floors at basement level, and 14 floors above lower street level and shall include a pool at roof level and an indoor pool.

Activist group Moviment Graffitti has objected to the development, warning that it runs counter to a number of planning policies and Gozo’s local plans and would prove detrimental to the seaside town.

Do you think a hotel should be built in Xlendi Bay?

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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