Tourism minister’s father, uncles, own water sports, ferry business with interests in Comino

Pleasure and Leisure Ltd, owned by the family of Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo, operates daily ferries to Comino

 

The father and uncles of Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo, who form part of a well-known family from Mellieħa, are the owners of Pleasure and Leisure Ltd, the company which operates under the brand name Oh Yeah Malta and runs daily ferry trips to Comino.

Questions have been sent to the tourism minister to determine whether he believes he has a conflict of interest and whether he can present a justification for omitting such information from the public, especially in light of the popular protest held at Blue Lagoon over last weekend.

A spokesperson for Bartolo told The Shift that “clearly, there is no conflict of interest”.

“Minister Bartolo’s family have nothing to do with the issue which was dealt with last week concerning the deckchairs in Blue Lagoon. Apart from that, Minister Bartolo never had any financial interest or held any position in the company that you are referring to which has been in operation for nearly three decades,” the spokesperson added.

The link between the tourism minister and his family’s ownership of Oh Yeah Malta was established through corroboration of publicly available data following a tip-off from a reader.

Bartolo has so far proven reluctant to commit to any significant changes in the area, so far only promising to ban all deckchairs and umbrellas from being placed on the sandy part of Blue Lagoon while vaguely referring to a management plan for Comino which has been in the works since around 2016.

On 11 June, Moviment Graffitti activists cleared out Blue Lagoon of deckchairs and umbrellas, demanding that these items should not be allowed to hog the entire beach from as early as 7am in the morning, and that there should be a tightly regulated management plan for the island which would limit activity in the area to preserve the Natura 2000 site.

Oh Yeah Malta, owned by Joseph Bartolo, the tourism minister’s father, and his uncles David and Godfrey, offers daily ferry trips which transport visitors directly to Blue Lagoon or Crystal Lagoon, both of which are highly popular spots in Comino, charging €17 per person.

The company also provides cruise trips around the islet at a rate of €25 per person. A cursory look at their filings on the Malta Business Registry reveals that the company has not filed any audited accounts since 2015. The business was originally established in 1989.

Oh Yeah Malta’s base of operations shares a jetty with DB Group’s Blu Beach Club in Mellieħa, a few metres away from the same business group’s Seabank Resort and Spa. Oh Yeah Malta also provides several water sports based activities.

This portal’s investigations into the businesses profiting from the excessive commercialisation of Comino have so far revealed a well-connected network of individuals who have, for years, raked in handsome profits from their business activities on the islet.

On 14 June, The Shift published a separate investigation about two other operators with vested interests in Comino who also have a direct link with the ruling Labour Party.

One of the associates of construction tycoon Joseph Portelli, Daniel Refalo, and Mark Cutajar, brother to Labour MEP Josianne Cutajar, own the only two licensed deckchair rental service operations in Blue Lagoon.

So far, the government has failed to publish a detailed strategy which would form the basis of their plan to handle the issues faced by Comino, which have only worsened over the years.

The uptake of public land at Blue Lagoon has become a growing burden over the years, with at least seven kiosks popping up along the coastline, loud blaring music, and little to no upkeep of the bay itself.

                           
                               
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Mariatheresa Micallef
Mariatheresa Micallef
3 days ago

Imma le ta’ ma jmissniex noqghodu nfittxu l-irqaqat ghax miskin, dawn tal- familja hux ..u wiehed ghandu dejjem jahseb fihom u jipprotegihom. Hekk sewwa u xieraq!
The moron.

Francis Said
Francis Said
2 days ago

The only solution for Comino is to limit the number visiting to sustainable levels. Overcrowding Comino serves only those with financial interests in Comino.

SIMON PETER GRECH
SIMON PETER GRECH
2 days ago
Reply to  Francis Said

Limiting the number of visitors will change the area into an exclusive zone more like a private lido and the enjoyment of the general public will come to an end. The issue and problem is all about all the commercial activity that is allowed on the island and abuses. The island should be available to all with no commercial activity on the island. Natura 2000

carlo
carlo
2 days ago

100%

gaetano
gaetano
2 days ago

If calling abuse and that mess an entertainment, then yes we are a nation of monkeys deprived of everything, fed peanuts as vouchers and cheques and let loose for two months in a year. All this in a banana Republic.

D. Borg
D. Borg
2 days ago

The Maltese “authorities” really need some basic lessons on what “conflict of interests” actually entails….

ray
ray
2 days ago

Let us not go to extremes for sensationalism His family’s watersports and cruise business has nothing to do with deckchairs on Comino and has been operating 30 years or more .If they did not file accounts since 2015 is another story and shows the incompetence of MFSA .

Ray Gatt
Ray Gatt
2 days ago

All in the family! (translated into Maltese = Taghna lkoll!

N Scerri
N Scerri
2 days ago

Mhux hekk tal MTA kienu on the way qalilna biex jiccekkjaw lil Uncle.M ghadhomx xeba u misthija.

L-aqwa jien qabel kullhadd
L-aqwa jien qabel kullhadd
2 days ago

Halluh miskin. X’ghandu x’jaqsam imbilli jaqla l’Ghexieren ta’ l-eluf mal-familja. Mir ara, imbilli ghax Ministru, jhallihom (flimkien mieghu stess) jgawdu. Mhux immportantanti li hadd iehor ma’ jsibx fejn joqghod fuq il-bic. Laqwa jien l’ewwel u qabel kollox.

gaetano
gaetano
2 days ago

Ma nahsibx li ser iddum ma tghidilna min waqqa l pont li kien tal vapur t ghawdex fil Marfa, min hareg aktar il barra fil bahar bih u ghaliex. Jidher li hemm min ordna l vapur u l lanca ghalih dak il moll.

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