The Maltese government has invited companies and individuals to express their interest in the design, building and operation of a cruise terminal facility on the island of Gozo, along with a yacht marina. Proposals can be for both facilities or just one.

Companies or individuals submitting their interest, must outline their experience and competence in similar projects, description of how they will carry out the components of the projects they are interested in; proposed contact periods; a business plan for capital spending and revenue potential, and more.

The deadline for submissions is Sept. 30, 2013.

According to the government of Malta, among its main objectives is the development of Gozo and the creation of sustainable and productive jobs for the local population. And the development of Gozo as a cruise ship and yachting destination is said to be high on the government’s agenda.

At present Gozo has two tender ports – Mġarr Harbor and Xlendi Bay – and is expecting 13 calls this year.

In an interview with Cruise Industry News, Manuel Tabone, director of tourism and economic development for the Ministry of Gozo, said: “The government is in the process of gauging the interest of private investors. Once that is done, it will be in a better position to delineate the exact nature of the project.

“In order to enable Gozo to reap the benefits of sustainable cruise growth, the government has acknowledged the need to develop the necessary berthing infrastructure and suitable shore facilities.

“How many passengers we will be able to handle will depend on the commitment of ground operators, transportation providers and local authorities,” Tabone added.

“Today, the Ministry for Gozo, Transport Malta and the Malta Tourism Authority coordinate every single call for optimal results.

“We have handled large ships such as the Prinsendam, Rotterdam and Noordam. Last year, we had two ships anchored at Mġarr on the same day, the Club Med II and the Seabourn Legend,” Tabone said.

He sees Gozo as a complementary call to Malta. “Being the sister island of Malta, Gozo is interesting in its own right and offers a totally different experience than Valletta,” Tabone said.

“The Valletta-Gozo combination offers a win-win opportunity for itinerary planners and visitors alike. The Maltese islands represent an attractive two-day program within a one-hour sailing distance between the two ports. Ships will benefit from both lower fuel consumption and port charges. Sailing from one port to the other is also very scenic, making ‘getting there’ an experience in itself.”

Gozo means “joy” and a port call will evoke this sensation, promised Tabone.

Attractions range from the UNESCO World Heritage Ggantija Temples, some of the oldest freestanding stone buildings in the world, to baroque architecture inherited from the Knights of St. John, salt pans along the coastline, mythical caves, the Citadel – the fortress high above the capital city of Victoria, and much more – both historical and natural sites.