Marsa is a major location that most south residents use on the daily to make their way to work, take children to school or go on with their errand runs. It is certainly not the first, and let’s face, it neither will it be the last, where an irregular activity in the area – be it a major or minor accident or an event – causes a lot of chaos in the area and its surroundings.
The same thing happened in the early days of the well-attended and highly anticipated gaming event, where lots of locals were stuck in traffic for longer than usual. The SiGMA event started on Monday (yesterday) 13th and will go on until Friday 17th November at the Mediterranean Maritime Hub (MMH) in Marsa. The SiGMA event is reported to have 25,000 delegates, over 750 operators, over 200 speakers and over 800 sponsors and exhibitors.
Many were asking why the location for this year’s event is in Marsa, when in previous years it was held at Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre (MFCC) in Ta’ Qali and other times at the Intercontinental Hotel in St Julians. Many drivers going through the area have also brought attention to the fact that many taxi drivers took up a whole lane as a drop-off area.
Adding some dramatic flair to a large number of social media posts, someone even requested the person responsible for such a decision to go to jail “for a whole year, or at least until the next SiGMA event.”
Others reasoned that MFCC has become too small for the event, not having enough space to house attendees, stands, meeting room areas, conference areas and catering areas and so, they explained, it was impossible for such an event to be held at MFCC. On the same wavelength, some even commented that individuals outside the industry are not aware of the growth of this event.
Earlier this year, Eman Pulis, SiGMA Group Founder also stated that the increased demand from delegates and exhibitors has compelled the company to seek a larger, more dynamic space.
“We’ve been working on this plan for the past five years and today, thanks to a robust road infrastructure and a refurbished venue, we can finally announce that we’re moving SiGMA Europe from MFCC in Ta’ Qali to the Marsa Mediterranean Maritime Hub. The venue is two to three times larger – but given the long waiting list, the floor plan is practically sold out already,” he announced in May.
Reacting to the traffic, taxi drivers expressed concern about the impact on their business. One particular taxi driver highlighted the pressure of picking up clients on time along with time wasted stuck in traffic, wasting good business.
In addition to the traffic in Marsa, many where quick to point out the lack of organisation from government agencies in starting road works right next to Malta International Airport (MIA), ahead of such a big event for the island.
Complaints were lodged even by attendees, who either had to park far away or were stuck in traffic (in a taxi) and had to walk the rest of the way. Others reported that internet at the event was slow, but comments were very sparse.
On a positive note, many praised the registration stand that SiGMA organised at MIA. The stand was ready for attendees to collect their badges and providing shuttle to locations around Malta. This was described as “a nice touch” saving visitors “a huge amount of time and hassle.” Others took to LinkedIn to share their excitement about this networking event, deemed as one of the biggest events for the industry, in Europe.
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