Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli officially launched a pilot project of a circular bus to and from Wied iż-Żurrieq utilising two buses provided by the Malta Tourism Authority.
At a press conference launching the initiative, Minister Farrugia Portelli explained that this service will commence from 4th July and is being financed by the Malta Tourism Authority with a €162,000 investment. The service is free of charge.
This service is geared towards addressing the parking problems in Wied iż-Żurrieq, which in the past have discouraged people from visiting this picturesque gem in the South of Malta. This problem was reflected in a survey commissioned by the Ministry for Tourism, which showed that almost 60% of those interviewed had experienced parking problems when visiting the area. 36% stated that they turned back when they did not find a suitable parking place. Almost 50% said they are open to using alternative transport instead of their own means.
Minister Farrugia Portelli stated that many had longed for a solution to this issue by creating a circular transport that serves the two closest localities to Wied iż-Żurrieq, while serving those who choose to park their vehicles near the former RAF Qrendi Airfield on the road to Siġġiewi.
“Wied iż-Żurrieq is a unique and popular place and touristic attraction that evolved from a small fishermen's village. In 2018 alone, 475,000 tourists visited the area. Apart from its unique attraction of the Blue Grotto, which attracts thousands of visitors every year, others visit for other activities such as swimming, fishing and also dining in one of the many fish restaurants in the area. However, a big challenge is parking space and thus one hopes that this bus service addresses the issue whilst promoting alternative modes of transport", stated Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli.
The service provided free of charge by the Malta Tourism Authority utilising vehicles provided by Malta Public Transport will operate as follows:
Two buses marked 'Destinazzjoni Wied iż-Żurrieq' will pick up passengers from San Niklaw/Il-Qasam in Siġġiewi and from the main squares of Qrendi and Żurrieq. In San Niklaw parking spaces have been created so people can park their vehicle there.
The service is to operate simultaneously with two buses to facilitate the practicality and frequency of the service.
The service will operate between Thursday and Sunday from 10:00am to 12:00pm, every 20 minutes.
The service will cater not only for those who visit Wied iż-Żurrieq by means of their personal vehicle but also those travelling on foot. In addition, this service opens up the possibility of transport between the two localities.
Dr Gavin Gulia, chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority, commented that this initiative is another example of how the touristic product is being enhanced in our islands. He also mentioned that this project is benefiting not only locals but also the tourists who visit Wied iż-Żurrieq every year.
The press conference was addressed also by the Director of Product Development within MTA, Perit Kevin Fsadni who explained in detail the operation of this service.
This project has been lauded by the Mayor of Qrendi David Schembri and the Mayor of Żurrieq Rita Grima as well as the rest of the local councillors who were present for the project launch.