Is a Gozo Tunnel a Good Thing?
The prospect of a Gozo Tunnel has been raised numerous times before, but there’s a feeling that momentum (as well as rather a lot of data) is now firmly behind the project. In many ways the project makes sense.
By 2025, if Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s plans go ahead, you’ll no longer have to take a ferry to start your Gozo holiday, you’ll be able to drive.
Gozo has an ageing population and a tunnel would enable far easier access to medical services, and to family who may live on the Maltese mainland. It would reduce the drain of young people from Gozo, because when you can drive to Malta in a few minutes, you don’t necessarily have to move there for your job. And then there’s tourism. Numbers continue to climb, and if Gozo wants them to climb further, there’s a limit to what the existing Gozo ferry crossing can support. Sociologist Marvin Formosa, who carried out the social impact assessment for the project, found that 82 of Gozitan’s surveyed were in favour of the tunnel. So of course it makes sense, doesn’t it?
There is some local opposition to the project – and I won’t attempt to wade into that argument as I’m not a Gozitan. But I do spend a lot of time every year on the island. It is a quite literal second home for me, and I worry about the effect of a tunnel. Gozo has a unique character, unique even compared with Malta next door. But tunnels – for all their undisputed benefits - have a homogenising effect, making the points on either side a little less distinctive. It would be a cruel irony if a Gozo Tunnel intended, at least in part, to open up Gozo to a wider audience, actually reduced the appeal of what they found when they got there. I know. I sound like Cnut trying to hold back the inevitable tide of progress – and I can certainly see many benefits of a tunnel for Gozitans. But when people choose a Gozo holiday – at least in my experience – they do so because they love that feeling of seclusion. They love the island feel. They love the fact that, far from being a ‘district’ of Malta, Gozo really is its own wonderful thing. I’d be sad to see that lost. Want to arrange your Gozo holiday while Gozo remains tunnel-free? Talk to me about finding your ideal Gozo holiday home on 01430 626 061.