Malta Hotel and Restaurants Association President Tony Zahra said that the MHRA is concerned about the Villa Rosa mega-project “as long as there are shadows over St George’s Bay” when contacted by The Shift.
When asked about the development itself, Zahra cited the MHRA’s main concern as the protection of the bay from shading, given its touristic value.
The MHRA released a statement on Saturday raising concerns about the shadows that stand to be cast by the development abutting St George’s Bay in St Julian’s. The proposal includes a 34-storey tower, two 27-storey towers and a hotel.
The Association likened a beach covered in shade to “a house without windows or doors”.
The project being proposed by Anton Camilleri’s Garnet Investments has been subject to public backlash given its size and impact on the already well-developed area. An environmental impact assessment recently published by the Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) found that it would have negative effects in all 38 types of impact surveyed.
NGOs Din L-Art Ħelwa and Moviment Graffitti have opposed the “atrocious” project, with DLĦ’s Prof. Alex Torpiano characterising the lack of infrastructure and studies to support it as a case of “the cart leading the horse”.
ADPD – The Green Party have also opposed the project, calling it “one of the worst examples of coast commercialisation” in a conference earlier on Saturday.
In its statement earlier today, the MHRA observed, “St George’s Bay enjoys a Blue Flag status, and such important international quality certification cannot be jeopardized”.
“THE MHRA recognizes the efforts and investment being made by entrepreneurs to upgrade the tourism product in the area, and therefore, even more, it is critical that St George’s Bay is protected and safeguarded.”
The Association asked for the ‘Golden Mile’ vision for the Paceville coastal area to be honoured. This plan was first proposed as part of the Paceville Masterplan in 2016 which was later shelved.
In comments to The Shift at the time, Moviment Graffitti argued against that version of a Paceville Masterplan, demanding “a masterplan designed around the interests of the people, not a developers’ wish list. We also want a nationwide moratorium on large-scale projects and high-rise buildings until a national masterplan has been drawn.”
Garnet Investments rejects MHRA claims
In a reaction to the MHRA statement, the owners of the Villa Rosa site “strongly rejected claims by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association that their project will shadow St George’s Bay throughout the year and throughout the day”.
They argued that in summer, the bay “will only begin seeing shadows after 4pm” and that they are “surprised by the reaction of the MHRA since the project will strongly contribute to Malta’s touristic product”.
In June, the sun sets at around 8:20pm, which means the development would overshadow St. George’s Bay for more than four hours a day during summer.
The ERA’s EIA concluded that shadows would “appear on the beach at 16:00. Initially they cover about 50% of the sandy area; by 18:00 these shadows cover all the sandy beach.” It characterised the level of impact as “initially moderate to high by sunset by swimmers and other users of the bay.”
In 2022, the MHRA also commissioned a tourism study to Deloitte, which concluded that nearly five million tourists a year would be needed to achieve an 80% occupancy rate across all current and proposed establishments. Pre-pandemic, tourism numbers had peaked at around two million a year.
Ir-regħba tal-businessmen Maltin bil-kompliċità tal-politiċi qed tispiċċa ddardar l-għajn li jridu jixorbu minnha huma stess, u jobżqu fis-sema biex jiġi f’wiċċhom.
Proġett mostruż li se jfotti l-bajja kollha u mhu se jgawdi ĦADD. Nies bla moħħ.
“the project will strongly contribute to Malta’s touristic product”
Tourists come to Malta for the sea and the sun…..and not towers, throwing shadows across the only sandy beach in theSt Julian’s area!