Gozo – the island of opportunity Have you ever imagined living and working in a tranquil Mediterranean island? A stone’s throw away from the main island of Malta, and covering a land area of just 67 square kilometers, Gozo demonstrates considerable diversity due its more rural and tranquil nature. A 45 minute drive from the Malta International Airport leads you to the Ċirkewwa ferry terminal. Connected by an hourly ferry service, the 25 minute crossing offers an interesting opportunity to savour the breathtaking views of the island of Comino and the Mġarr Harbour, which welcomes you to Gozo. The route between Malta and Gozo is busy and picturesque. Nearly 4 million passengers cross annually between the two islands, a flow that is facilitated by modern ferries, the new terminals on the two islands and the frequency of trips. Gozo has ambitious targets of becoming an eco-island by 2020. After the first action plan which marked the implementation of this vision from 2010, the Ministry for Gozo is now working on the second action plan. The eco-Gozo vision focuses on all spheres of life in Gozo. Quality investments for more sustainable jobs; a better quality of life; a society exerting less pressure on the environment; a wholesome natural and cultural environment; a caring society for all; and sustaining the island’s identity, are the main pillars of this vision. The Government is the leading actor in its implementation, cooperating with and involving all the stakeholders representing diverse interests within the Gozitan society. These stakeholders contributed also to the formulation of this vision. Tourism is one of the main pillars of the Gozitan economy. In 2013, there were nearly 1 million foreign visitors to Gozo and the Ministry for Gozo is intent to reach its targets of attracting quality tourists for longer stays. Gozo has a distinct tourism product which is also reflected in the accommodation sector. Collective accommodation establishments (hotels, aparthotels, and guesthouses) make up 26.8% of the total bedstock in Gozo, the major supply is represented by converted farmhouses, villas and self-catering apartments. Gozo s rural and distinct nature, coupled with its mild Mediterranean climate during the winter season, make it ideal as a year-round destination for outdoor activities such as diving, kayaking and climbing. Gozo has some of the most stunning diving locations in the Mediterranean. The Blue Hole is one of the most popular shore diving sites on the island. Government has invested heavily in this important niche with the scuttling of a number of wrecks along the island’s shore and the development of important facilities on the island, such as the hyperbaric chamber at the Gozo General Hospital. The private sector has moved alongside this development with the establishment of a number of professional diving schools in Gozo, run by both locals and foreigners. Apart from diving, Gozo is also generating considerable interest among other sport enthusiasts. A number of climbing routes have been established, and have also been tried by some world renowned climbers. Despite not having mountains, Gozo s rock formations especially along its coastline provide a challenge for enthusiasts of this sport. The Government is intent on developing other niches, such as the hosting of high level meetings, conferences and events. Government is aware of the potential of Gozo, spurred by the island s deep-rooted culture of hospitality. Homer’s Odyssey recounts Gozo as the island where Ulysses spent seven years, under the enchantment of the nymph Calypso. Calypso Cave in Xaghra village is a scenic destination for thousands of tourists who are awed by the beauty of the surrounding nature, sea and red sand of Ramla bay spread far below in the valley. Another strongpoint for the island is its active cultural calendar distinguished by its traditional festas marking the whole summer season, and activities such as the two operas held in October, in the two main theatres of the town of Victoria. This year will see the performance of the Nabucco and Il Trovatore. Other important annual festivals include the Mediterranea, and the Gaulitana music festival. Gozo’s scenery and breathtaking views have also contributed extensively to its economy. The Azure Window in Dwejra has been the backdrop for film and television series, including the ‘Clash of the Titans’, the ‘Count of Monte Cristo’, and the ‘Game of Thrones’. The secluded bay of Mġarr ix-Xini is presently the location for the film ‘By the Sea’, scripted and directed by Angelina Jolie. The future looks exciting as the Government is also aware of Gozo’s investment potential. An international call for expression of interest for the development of a cruise liner terminal and yacht marina was issued by the Government in 2013. The Government is also looking at other potential projects, including the development of an air link for the island. The success of the national educational strategy, has translated itself in the availability of the required human resources for new ventures to be set up in Gozo. The recent signing of an agreement for the setting up of an established software company, specialised in payment systems, in Gozo, is evidence of the fact that today’s globalised and interconnected world has provided renewed opportunities for locations such as Gozo. Companies, taking advantage also of Malta Enterprise’s specific investment benefits, can invest and work from Gozo whilst savouring the tranquil lifestyle that this Mediterranean island can offer. The future surely looks bright for Gozo, as a number of projects, targeted at sustaining and enhancing Gozo’s economic progress, will be undertaken during the next European Union programming period between 2014–2020.

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