This is one of those stories I’m not sure whether to chuckle at or slap my forehead in disbelief. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Gozo holiday then your route to the island will almost certainly have involved the Gozo ferry.
But here’s a funny thing. The Gozo Ferry Company, as you might expect, monitors the numbers of passengers boarding in Malta at the Cirkewwa terminal. Then it monitors numbers going the other way from Gozo’s Mgarr terminal. And it has discovered something rather strange. Numbers going to Gozo are considerably larger than those returning, especially in summer. So where has everybody gone?
Bizarrely, the Gozo ferry doesn’t require you to have a ticket to travel to Gozo – you only need a ticket to come back. So take several thousand savvy holidaymakers and a bit of entrepreneurial spirit, and the result has been that everyone ploughs over to Gozo on the ferry, then uses a growing number of private small boat operators to sail back on the cheap.
Astonishingly, the ferry company has known of this for some years but, as the Malta Independent reports, only now is it considering a return ticket system that would mean everyone needs a ticket for every part of the journey. That’s not quite as simple a proposition as it sounds, because when the Malta ferry side was renovated, no provision was made for installing ticket machines.
Gozo Channel chairman Joseph Cordina told The Malta Independent on Sunday: "It is unbelievable how it was built because there is no way to implement a ticketing system at the moment."
Yet the ticketing fiasco seems to miss the point, because private boats that can ferry Gozo holidaymakers from Mgarr are just as capable of ferrying them to Mgarr. The ferry company can’t close the competition down, so it seems that the only natural option is for Gozo’s (rapidly) growing ferry industry to enter into some sort of price war.
Which means, handily for you, that the cost of getting to and from Gozo over the next couple of should stay low.
And if you’d like to put that theory to the test, call me about your next Gozo holiday now on 01430 626 061.