Salina salt to be produced again as project nears end
The rehabilitation of Salina will be finished by the end of this year, Rural Affairs Minister George Pullicino said during a visit to the project site yesterday.
Speaking from a wooden hut that mimicked original sheds built centuries ago, Mr Pullicino said the €7 million project, which started in December 2011, should be finished by the end of October or beginning of November.
The project, 75 per cent of which is funded by the EU, includes the restoration and cleaning of 35 salt pans, which will return to production.
Salt production was badly affected by the floods of 1998 and again in 2003. The patched huts had been damaged as well and are being rebuilt to store the salt. Another hut, which Mr Pullicino visited yesterday with Tourism Minister Mario de Marco, will house a cafeteria and an interpretation centre.
On the other side of the road, linked by an underpass, a visitors’ centre will be set up at the Ximenes Redoubt.
The Ximenes Redoubt was built in the 18th century to defend and store the salt produced from the pans at Salina constructed during the 16th century, when salt was an absolute necessity for preserving food.
Mr Pullicino described the saltpans as a treasure, saying they were the only saltpans in Malta built on a man-made island.
He said discussions were under way with local salt producers who would be forming an association that would produce salt at Salina.
This project complemented other attractions in the area, including the rehabilitation of the salt marsh, Salini Park, catacombs and Port Ruman remains.
An electric boat will also be linking the salt pans to Qawra Bay.
Tourism Minister de Marco added that the area was an important touristic zone with 14 four-star hotels, 15 three-star ones, four guest houses, 15 diving schools and over 200 catering establishments.
The area was associated with seasonal tourism so projects such as this one were needed because they are an attraction all-year-round.
Dr de Marco added that January’s good performance indicated a good year, but nothing should be taken for granted and the country’s competitive edge had to be maintained.