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The Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), in collaboration with the Ministry for Tourism is continuously involved in projects whose objective is to improve the tourism product. In the last years the MTA has embarked on a number of projects with the main aim to improve the visitor’s experience whilst on the islands in order to ensure more value for money.


Projects implemented by the MTA:

ERDF033: Tourism Zone Upgrade with Urban Landscaped Spaces and other Facilities

In 2007, the MTA submitted an application for the implementation of a project that target the improvement of specific tourism areas, including Pembroke, St Paul’s Bay and Qawra Point. This project whose value exceeds 21 million euros, is part-financed by the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund and consists of the following components:

- Development of a National Aquarium in Qawra

- Upgrading of St Paul’s Bay Promenade

- Restoration of Wignacourt Tower and WWII Beachpost in St Paul’s Bay

- Development of Pembroke Gardens

- Development of a Walking / Cycling track in Pembroke

- Restoration of Madliena Tower

- Creation of Educational Brochures / Leaflets in relation to Pembroke Heritage Project

Other Projects

- Diving Lectures at the Diving Institute, Malta National Aquarium


The Malta National Aquarium

Project History

The concept for a national aquarium has been on the cards for many years. Two factors contributed to the lengthy time taken for the project to take off: the selection of an appropriate site and the identification of a sustainable operating model that would achieve the project objectives without depending on government financial subsidies.

The first attempt to build a public aquarium commenced in 1993, when the Ministry of Tourism had identified the site at Qawra Point as a possible location for this project, noting that the area constituted a tourism zone in decline which required investment in general. Despite the process for this project started in 1993, culminating in an International Call for Offers in 1996, the process was discontinued following the realisation that the project was not feasible if it were to be funded solely from private sources.

Government considered the option of constructing and operating the aquarium through a public entity. This option was likewise considered as not sustainable. Eventually it was decided to opt for a Public Private Partnership. The Malta Tourism Authority was entrusted to carry forward this project on behalf of the Government of Malta. The MTA developed the project concept, applied and obtained the ERDF funding for the project, managed, in conjunction with the Department of Contracts, the tendering process which led to the selection of the private partner.

Project Description

The total cost of the entire project is of €15.6 million of which €8.85 million are being funded through the European Regional Development Fund with the rest of the funds coming from the private investors (Marine Aquatic Ltd).

The project is spread over approximately 20,000 square meters and comprises of a public aquarium, a public garden at promenade level, a multi storey car park, facilities for local dive schools, catering facilities including a reef club, a merchandise outlet and a tourist information kiosk.

The entrance to the Malta National Aquarium is characterised by a timber dome roof, spanning approximately 52 metres in total and supported solely on concrete plinths at the perimeter. The principal structure of the dome is made from curved laminated timber beams, joined together by steel nodes while the secondary structure is made up of smaller glulam-beams, which supports the overall cover to the structure. All the beams of this dome have been constructed from wood originating from sustainable forests within Europe. This shell structure in the form of a starfish is providing an attractive architectural landmark in the landscape and promenade of Qawra. Malta

The national aquarium itself is housed in an underground building located under the promenade level. The aquarium, which houses 26 tanks, 3 of which are freshwater tanks, houses over over a 100 different species, mostly of which Mediterranean fish found around the Maltese coast. One could also find tropical marine fish from oceans and seas around the world, including sharks and rays. Every aquarium has its own life support system to avoid the spread of any possible disease or infection.

The main tank of the aquarium contains species from the Indian Ocean, including sharks and rays. The main tank is approximately 12 meters in diameter. Visitors are able to go through a water tunnel thereby experiencing the fish at a much closer distance.

All tanks where expertly themed to replicate the underwater environment and has taken cues from the Maltese coast and heritage. An emphasis has been placed on the diving wrecks present around the Maltese Islands in order to promote awareness of this important tourism niche.

Additional features of the public aquarium include a class room area, interpretation, touch pools, a temporary exhibition space, veterinary and quarantine facilities

The garden and Piazza San Pawl provide additional recreation facilities for pedestrians who frequent the popular Qawra promenade. The car park has a capacity of over 160 cars.

In line with the project objectives, the Malta National Aquarium will work closely with a number of local marine conservation groups with the aim to enhance awareness of the local marine flora and fauna. In fact, the Malta National Aquarium is also an educational facility where children and adults alike can learn about the biology of the species.


The MTA Dive Lectures at the the Diving Institute, Malta National Aquarium

Over the past years, the Maltese Islands have been repeatedly voted amongst the best diving destination in the World. The water surrounding our Islands is endowed with an unparalleled beauty with a combination of marine life , caves, reefs and incredible submerged topographies. Furthermore, historic shipwrecks and crashed aircraft still lying on the seabed provide testimony to Malta’s rich history. Complimenting these are a series of wrecks that have been scuttled to act as artificial reefs which in turn provide some enticing dive sites. 


In its role of a supporter and promoter of the operators from the diving industry, the Malta Tourism Authority together with the University of Malta and PDSA recently organised a lecture series aimed specifically at the Diving communities. Through this series the Malta Tourism authority disseminated knowledge about the underwater world.

Attendees were provided with first hand knowledge on safety at sea including life saving information on search & rescue. Due to the efforts of the organisers, several renowned professionals, shared their knowledge in a variety of subjects including underwater cultural heritage and archeology that one can find around the Maltese Islands, marine life and habitats, marine reserves and sustainable diving.

These lectures were held at the Diving Institute at the National Aquarium and were very well attended by several diving clubs as well by other interested individuals.

The second part of this ERDF project targeted the improvement of a derelict area in front of some of the main 5-star resorts in this area and its conversion into a public garden. Furthermore, the project involved the establishment of a park (Pembroke Heritage Project) across the former military shooting ranges - based on a walking/cycling trail that links the new garden with the Madliena Tower.


Pembroke Heritage Project

The area, known as the Pembroke Heritage Project, is classified as a category VI Protected Area (International Union for Conservation of Nature , 1994) and covers around 97 hectares. The project itself involved the accessibility of this area by introducing a walking/ cycling trail across a larger part of the Natura 2000 site that is about 2.5kms in length.

MTA’S main aim is to ensure sustainable tourism by highlighting the rich biodiversity and heritage that this Natura 2000 site can offer. 



Pembroke Cycling / Walking Trail

A continous walking / cycling trail, around 2.5km long was created along the Pembroke Heritage project. In effect this pedestrian link connects Pembroke Gardens to the Madliena Tower. Besides ensuring a good safe ride to cyclists, the trail is meant to highlight the beauty of Malta’s natural coastline garigue and rocky shorelines.

Parts of the cycle path made use of existing pathways which were used by British forces to patrol the area. At selected points along the route, MTA has created rest areas with landscaping and seating. The MTA has also restored a shelter room which was used by the British military.

Several interpretation panels were also installed along the route to highlight both the natural and historic features of the Pembroke Heritage Project. This project was inaugurated in March 2013.




Pembroke Gardens

As an alternative to the hustle and bustle of St. George’s Bay and Paceville, Pembroke Gardens provides a quiet enclave where people can sit and relax nearby. A staggering 19,000 square metres of land have been dedicated to an open space for all to enjoy. The garden consists of 1,000m² of piazzas, 900m² of play area for children and a total of 7,550m² spread across two gardens. Pembroke Gardens is split over five levels, with different levels dedicated for different uses; namely open spaces, play areas and resting spots. The five levels are linked by a water feature measuring 105 metres creating the impression of a flowing stream. The levels are also interconnected by a winding ramp, making it fully accessible for everyone. This Project was inaugurated in July 2012.




Restoration of Madliena Tower and Surrounding Structures

Works consisted in the restoration of the Madliena Tower, Gun Crew Shed, WWII Gun Emplacement and fougasse. The facades of the tower and the Gun Crew shed were cleaned and re-pointed with hydraulic lime mortar. The tower included as well structural pinning in order to re-establish its structural integrity. The steel structure and the corrugated concrete roof of the WWII Gun Emplacement were replaced with exact replica due to their existing high deterioration state. The Victorian Examination battery and the fougasse were cleaned and a railing was installed around the same fougasse. The works also involved the installation of light fittings, CCTV Cameras, PV Panels and an alarm system. This project was inaugurated in March 2013.




Pembroke Heritage Project Brochures

In conjunction with Nature Trust Malta and Ekoskola, MTA was also responsible for the co-ordination of a set of booklets / leaflets aimed to promote the natural and historic features found in this Natura 2000 site. Four types of leaflets / booklets, amongst which one can use a map of the route along this park,  educational activities booklet for primary school children and a more detailed booklet for research purposes. These can be viewed and downloaded:



Pembroke Garigue Heritage Project Map





Pembroke Heritage Project Site Guide



Pembroke Heritage Project – Educational Activities for Primary Section (English)



Pembroke Heritage Project – Educational Activities for Primary Section (Maltese)



Pembroke Heritage Project Visitor Booklet



St Paul’s Bay Promenade

Another component of this project consisted of the upgrading of approximately 1 km of promenade and the creation of a coastal walkway in St Paul’s Bay.

During the embellishment works of St Paul’s Bay promenade a beach post was accidentally rediscovered by the MTA. This beachpost was in fact built by the British military and formed part of the first line of defence against invasion from the sea in the early months of WW2. The Wignacourt Tower was built by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1610 and is the oldest surviving coastal defence post in Malta.

Following the embellishment works of St Paul’s Bay promenade, the MTA issued a tender to restore all the external facades of the Wignacourt tower, and the WWII beach post in St. Paul’s Bay. This project was inaugurated in April 2015.




Restoration of the Facades of the Wignacourt Tower and Beach Post in St. Paul’s Bay

During the embellishment works of St Paul’s Bay promenade a beach post was accidentally rediscovered by the MTA. This beachpost was in fact built by the British military and formed part of the first line of defence against invasion from the sea in the early months of WW2. The Wignacourt Tower was built by Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt in 1610 and is the oldest surviving coastal defence post in Malta.

Following the embellishment works of St Paul’s Bay promenade, the MTA issued a tender to restore all the external facades of the Wignacourt tower, and the WWII beach post in St. Paul’s Bay. This project was inaugurated in April 2015. 



Wignacourt Tower, St Paul’s Bay



Beachpost, St Paul’s Bay







Director Product and Planning Development

Perit Kevin Fsadni

E-mail: kevin.fsadni@visitmalta.com

Telephone: 22915171

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