Editorial: Loud, noisy Valletta

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September, 2022 at 11:37 am by Andre Camilleri

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association is not happy with the situation in Valletta.

In a statement last week, the MHRA called on the government to “re-evaluate” the legal notices which allow music to be played in establishments in a number of streets of the capital city until 1am, extending the time from the previously-set 11pm.

The MHRA contended that this has brought about “chaos of loud amplified music across Valletta”, with a high level of noise pollution that “led to an increased level of complaints and requests for compensation by guests staying at Valletta hotels”.

“Facts demonstrate that the way currently entertainment is being allowed is leading to a deterioration of the quality image of Valletta as unique destination in Malta,” the MHRA said.

In other words, Valletta is becoming another Paceville, which is what worried residents as soon as the government announced its plans before summer. Now that the plans have been put into place, the residents are, literally, facing the music.

The government is not listening. It went ahead with its idea – which, given its controversy, was presented after the election, meaning that the government knew it was going to be unpopular. It also voted against a motion presented by the Opposition, which sought to revoke the legal notices.

Even the Valletta mayor, a representative of the Labour Party, played down the residents’ concerns in an interview he gave to The Malta Independent on Sunday. He said that the residents had been misguided on the issue, and that matters are now under control. The MHRA, and residents of Valletta, beg to differ.

The government is playing with fire on this one. The older generations will remember how, in the 1980s, Paceville was quickly transformed from a quiet suburb of St Julian’s to the entertainment mecca we know today. This meant that most residents fled at the first opportunity.

Valletta has been losing its population for decades, and now it runs the risk of losing even more of them. So far, the legal notices cover a limited number of streets, but it may just be the beginning. It’s very possible, not to say very likely, that the government is planning to extend the measure to other areas in Valletta.

Over the past years, Valletta has seen an increase in the number of boutique hotels. Millions have been invested in the sector. But if tourists start complaining, if they do not like the experience, and if word spreads that Valletta is a noisy place to be, then the chances that these accommodation establishments will start to lose business grows.

This is what the MHRA probably had in mind when it issued that statement.

What is happening in Valletta “contradicts efforts in positioning Valletta as a high end destination as agreed to by all tourism stakeholders through the national tourism policy,” the MHRA said.

The residents agree.

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