The Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce has questioned the planning decision to postpone new tourism investment, warning that if Gibraltar fails to invest in its tourist product the sector will decline.
This comes after the Development and Planning Commission deferred an application to invest in a new, larger and more modern cable car to take visitors to the top of the Rock amid objections from the Taxi Association.
The GTA had expressed concern as to how the increase of people in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve will be managed in addition to the environmental impact of the project.
But, in a statement the Chamber said the cable car is electric and produces no direct emissions.
“On the other hand, the objectors drive diesel vehicles up and down the Rock, but the DPC has decided to ignore any environmental impact which cars and exhaust emissions have on the environment of the Upper Rock,” the Chamber said.
“This truly beggars belief.”
The Chamber said that other jurisdictions manage to deal with steady increases in visitor numbers at the same time as taking environmental considerations into account.
In Gibraltar, the business network said, visitor numbers to the Upper Rock have remained stagnant for the past decade largely as a result of transport issues.
“The demand to visit the Upper Rock is there and the applicant is prepared to make a significant capital investment to fulfil that demand in as environmentally-friendly a manner as possible.”
Additionally, the Chamber flagged how next year the number of cruise calls to Gibraltar is forecast to fall by 25 per cent in sharp contrast with the significant growth of cruise calls at neighbouring ports in the last few years.
“The fall will mean that there will be at least 100,000 fewer passengers and crew visiting Gibraltar.”
The Chamber has questioned whether this is attributable to the lack of development and investment in Gibraltar’s tourism offering in recent times.
“This is all in the same year that Gibraltar begins the transition period to leave the EU along with the continued uncertainties over Brexit which could put local jobs at risk.”
“This application is particularly welcome at this time as it demonstrates the confidence which the company has in the future of Gibraltar’s tourism industry and is a big step in the right direction.”