The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) has expressed its “disappointment” over the lack of consultation regarding the introduction of a new law that extends the time music can be played outside in Valletta to 1am.

Business owners, residents and local council members have already come out strongly against the legal notice, although Infrastructure Minister Aaron Farrugia has stated that this brings the Maltese capital in line with place with Rome and Barcelona. He also described the extension as a “balance”.

However, the MHRA on Monday said that the updated law positions Valletta alongside the three entertainment hotspots of Paceville, Buġibba and Qawra for the first time.

“MHRA believes that such measure will compromise the zoning policy, in other words the possibility of creating a mix of tourism products and concepts across the Maltese islands by guiding investment opportunities in a strategic manner.

“This legal amendment is putting at high risk that Valletta becomes another nightclub destination which according to MHRA should not be the target of anyone who has at heart the principles of sustainable tourism growth objectives.”

The association noted that over the past years Valletta has continued to transform itself into a destination in itself, and pointed out that its members have played a critical role on this front by investing millions of euros in developing high-end quality accommodation facilities and restaurant operations.

It said its members believe that Valletta can become a high-end destination which ultimately not only reflects its UNESCO heritage site status but also, as stated in the National Tourism Policy, to be part of the efforts and process of enhancing the quality dimension of Malta’s tourism offer.

“MHRA is therefore calling Government to engage with its members to in a comprehensive manner review policies related to the improvement of Valletta as a quality tourism destination in the wider context of the Malta tourism product.”

It drew attentioin to the clustering of music activity along the streets of Valletta, street cleansing and waste collection, and joint marketing initiatives, amongst others.

“MHRA reiterates that enforcement remains critical to ensure that the spirit of the National Tourism Policy is actually translated into concrete action, but also there is a need for closer consultation with our members who ultimately are not only keen to ensure that quality remains at the crux of every decision taken related to the further sustainable development of the tourism product in Malta but need clear direction by Government to ensure that our investment strategies complement the national policies.”

It called on the Government to ensure that the amended law does not end up as a loophole in the system which turns Valletta into yet another mass tourism destination.

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