15 MAY 2002

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Refalo calls for golf course decision as Sicily plans biggest European funpark

By Kurt SansoneNeighbouring Sicily is expecting an economic boost in the next three years as the construction of a fantasy park larger than Eurodisney gets under way near the sleepy village of Regalbuto in the province of Enna.

The mega-project estimated to cost around EUR831 million (Lm330 million) is expected to attract 3.3 million visitors annually. It will include 70 attractions, thematic areas, cinemas and an 18-hole golf course spread over a total area of 3.3 square kilometres. It will also create 3,000 new jobs. The Regalbuto development is scheduled to begin by the end of this summer and will be inaugurated in the summer of 2005.

Asked for his reaction to this development, which will almost certainly offer a new competitive challenge to the tourism sector, Tourism Minister Michael Refalo said that space, environmental and social constraints limit Malta’s potential to compete on this scale of leisure and entertainment. "Malta should be promoted and developed for what it is," he told The Malta Financial and Business Times.

But Minister Refalo was adamant on the need for an official decision on golf course development. "I look forward to the day when our powers that be decide, one way or the other, on at least one of the four applications submitted by local consortia and investors."

Dr Refalo highlighted that over the last three years the thrust of government’s tourism policy was to emphasise every aspect of Malta and Gozo, rather than just the sun and sea concept.

Diversifying Malta’s tourist package is important because the Regalbuto developers hope that the fantasy park will help boost Sicily’s image as a complete tourist destination. Being Europe’s largest fantasy park, the warning bells to other Mediterranean resorts have already been sounded.

Copyright © Network Publications Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt