A tender for the design and construction of the new Institute for Tourism Studies campus at Smart City has been announced with an expected cost of around €72 million, eight years after the project was announced in 2015.
The tender announcement for the project, which will feature a campus for up to 2,500 students, dormitories for 500 students and offices for 300 staff, among other facilities, shows the expected cost has ballooned by €12 million from its originally touted €60 million price tag.
Permits for the project at Smart City, Kalkara, were approved in August 2022, with the project initially announced in 2015 by disgraced former Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.
Despite plans being finalised and approved and more than €4 million already spent on design, the tender announcement nevertheless lists design works as part of the specifications.
The tender announcement says it is an “upcoming open procedure set to be initiated in the coming months, aiming to engage an economic operator responsible for the construction of the new campus for the Institute for Tourism Studies in Malta through a Design and Build Contract.”
The tender announcement estimates the contract will be issued by the end of November, specifying that work on the project will last two years, with its completion in November 2025.
CEO Pierre Fenech, who heads ITS and the Mediterranean Conference Centre (MCC), is listed as the primary contact for the project.
Fenech earns €122,000 for his two roles, with Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo claiming his work is judged based on performance rather than the number of hours he commits to his two full-time positions.
Last July, The Shift reported how the project was initially to be co-financed by the European Union through the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) scheme meant to aid member state governments in their recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, but was later axed following budget cuts by the EU.
In response to a recent parliamentary question, Bartolo claimed that construction on the project would begin by the first half of 2024 and that the campus will open its doors to students around two years later, in October 2026.
Bartolo did not mention how the project, with a price tag now expected to reach €72 million, will be funded after being dropped from the EU’s post-Covid funding.
The former ITS Campus in Pembroke was given to the DB group at a fraction of its total price in 2017, a move which led to years of objections and court appeals by environmental NGOs, residents and local councils.