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The Budget 2023 – Minister for Business, Tourism and the Port – 465/2023

By July 12, 2023 No Comments

The Hon Vijay Daryanani MP



Mr Speaker, it is an absolute privilege to deliver my third Budget Address to this House as Minister for Business, Tourism and The Port.

During the course of my contribution, I will report on the work we have done over the past Financial Year and will set out my Ministry’s objectives for this Financial Year.



Mr Speaker, let me start with Tourism and by saying that my aim for Tourism has not changed since I took on this portfolio.  It is to promote Gibraltar for what it is, “the British jewel of the Mediterranean”. Gibraltar is the ideal tourist destination and this is the consistent message that we have delivered at different trade fairs and the wider market.

In June last year we attended the European Cruise Summit in Genoa. It gave me the chance to interact with relevant players of the cruise industry to discuss ideas and issues impacting the industry and how to work together to shape the future of cruising in Europe.  At the same time, I met with some of the cruise lines that visit Gibraltar.  It is important to maintain constant contact with our partners so that we can keep on working together.

I had the opportunity of meeting the Minister for Tourism of Greece, Vassilis Kikilias and Marie-Caroline Laurent, Director General of the Cruise Lines International Association.  It is always interesting meeting Ministers from other countries as it allows us to exchange ideas and see if we can work together, if at all possible.  My purpose at these events is to keep reminding the key decision makers about Gibraltar and promoting this wonderful nation of ours.

In July las year, the Gibraltar Tourist Board exhibited at the Meetings Show in London.  This show welcomes exhibitors from around the world including hotel, destination management companies, conference venues and technology suppliers, allowing them to come face to face with global buyers of event, meetings and incentive locations.


Lord Sebastian Coe delivered the joint keynote with TEAMS Europe, a newly launched platform for sport-event organisers seeking destinations and suppliers that want more sport related conferencing and event business.

Mr Speaker, I believe Gibraltar has scope for development and growth in this field and I am working closely with the CEO of the Gibraltar Tourist Board to explore and expand this avenue.

Mr Speaker, Seatrade Cruise Med took place in Malaga last September.  It is the only back-to-back cruise conference in the Mediterranean.  We need to be present and visible at these exhibitions if we want to continue promoting Gibraltar in the right way and increase cruise calls to our port.

At the conference, I took part in a panel discussion titled “Promoting new regional cruise itineraries”.  I was joined by representatives of Malaga and Tangier, two of our main competitors in the region.  The presence of Gibraltar’s Minister for Tourism in events like these is crucial.

The discussion was focused on increasing cruise calls in the region of the Western Mediterranean.  I therefore took the opportunity to showcase Gibraltar as a popular cruise destination emphasising on our port as one of the best in the Mediterranean and highlighted our plans for the future. Even though Malaga and Tangiers are our competitors it is important to explore if we can work with them to see if we can attract more traffic to the region.  This is something we are looking at doing.

Windstar Cruises Wind Surf cruise liner was the first to experience a tour at our City Hall.  Guests were treated to an art tour of the Mario Finalyson National Art Gallery and walked around the City Hall learning all about its varied history and uses from it being a private residence, a hotel, the seat of the City Council, and now the Office of the Mayor.  The tour concluded with a canapé and refreshments reception to sample our local cuisine in the Mayor’s Parlour.

Mr Speaker, October was a busy month once again working with the cruising industry.  Together with MH Bland I welcomed a group of cruise executives to Gibraltar.  This familiarization trip hosted by MH Bland included cruise liners such as Saga Cruises, Fred Olson, Mystic Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and Azamara.

These trips are very important as it allows the decision makers to see the destination at first hand.  I am grateful to MH Bland for working in conjunction with the Government for the better of Gibraltar.  Gibraltar has all the ingredients to really become the port of choice in the Mediterranean and we need to work in partnership to make this a success.

Mr Speaker, I was invited on-board by Regent Seven Seas Splendor while they were here in Gibraltar. I was interviewed by a UK film crew who were producing a piece on luxury cruising.  This was an excellent opportunity once again to showcase Gibraltar as a cruising destination.  Regent have a magnificent product and I am delighted that they are including us in their itineraries and grateful that they promoted us through this invitation.

Mr Speaker, as part of our marketing drive we have hosted various groups of influencers and key opinion leaders, travel writers such as members of the British Guild of Travel writers who visited us in October, and journalists such as from the Mail on Sunday, City AM plus a major airline loyalty programme team. This has resulted in some excellent coverage by way of targeted travel related articles both online and offline.


In November, Mr Kevin Bossino the Tourism CEO, attended a Travel Bulletin Awards dinner in London where Gibraltar was shortlisted in the Star Cultural Tourism Destination nominations. Gibraltar was against tough competition with countries such as Greece, Israel, Italy, Jordan, South Africa and Thailand – who ended up winning the award. It was nevertheless a great achievement to be in the same company as the countries in question. This is another example of Gibraltar punching above its weight once again.

In December the Tourism CEO, opened a Travel Weekly breakfast event in London, which was a fabulous opportunity to address a good cross-section of the UK Travel trade.  These events allow us to showcase Gibraltar as the perfect short break from the U.K.  They are attended by travel agents, press and main players in the industry.  We are proud of our British links and we will always market Gibraltar in the UK.

Mr Speaker, the 8th Gibunco Gibraltar Literary Festival took place in November 2022.  This three daylong event included a school programme where a number of the international authors attended schools around Gibraltar to speak to students about their books.  This year we had diverse authors such as Rory Cormac, Raffi Berg, Matthew Dennison, Lloyd Grossman CBE, Jonathan Fenby, Martin Sixmith, Professor Mary beard, Sir Peter Ricketts, Nicholas Janni, Alan Johnson, Maggie Gee OBE, Patrick Gale, Charlotte Philby, Jess Phillips MP, Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Alastair Santhouse, Professor Cath Green and lastly but by no means least Rachel Williams. I didn’t want to leave anyone out!

The authors are of exceptional quality and their talks were incredibly interesting – the event was a success and very well received by members of the public.  Mr Speaker, I would like to publically thank The Gibunco Group especially Mr John A Bassadone for their continued support towards the Gibraltar Literary Festival and I am delighted that we have already announced this year’s festival which will be held between the 17th and 19th of November.  My team and I are working hard to make sure that it’s even better than last year, so watch this space!

Mr Speaker, Gibraltar hosted the CAPA World Aviation Summit & Awards for Excellence in December last year, which was held at the Sunborn. This two-day summit allowed me to interact with various aviation and travel representatives from around the world with the purpose of sharing ideas behind the future of the aviation industry. It was a fantastic opportunity to showcase Gibraltar first hand to CEOs and high level executives of the global aviation industry.  Many were visiting for the first time and were extremely impressed with Gibraltar and showed interest in air links but. Of course, these are on hold for obvious reasons, at this moment.

Mr Speaker, I attended the International Hotel Investment Forum in London where I was introduced to very influential hotel owners, investors and hotel companies with large property portfolios. This led to follow up meetings in January with professional hotel investors. It also included MICE (Meetings Incentive Conventions & Exhibition) professionals with the intention of exploring the potential of a MICE venue in Gibraltar. As Gibraltar grows we need to add to our hotel room stock, albeit this will be done in a considered and calibrated fashion.  All this takes time, it does not happen overnight and I can tell you Mr Speaker, that I do not stop.

We have to continue engaging with the industry to encourage niche events; one of my goals is to make Gibraltar a “happening place”. We will continue to actively engage with Destination Management Companies and Professional Congress Organizers, event planners, wedding planners, the corporate sector, educational sector, culture and sports, to name a few, to be able to attract niche events across the board. There has been good work done in the past but we can push these areas more and continue to try and get some traction in new and established events.


Other than marketing Gibraltar in the traditional sense there is a need to increase our digital marketing presence and we will be engaging with relevant players in this field. There are many areas in the digital world which can be targeted including, social media, special interest podcasts, blogs, vlogs, programmatic buying etc.  Times are changing and so must we.

Mr Speaker, we are also constantly working to supplement our photographic and video stock to ensure we have the right images and footage to entice people to travel to our wonderful and unique Rock making sure we showcase the variety of experiences in the destination, including history, culture, nature, wildlife, food, wine, outdoor adventure and our special geographical location.

Mr Speaker, there has been a record number of 20 inaugural cruise calls in 2022 beating the previous 19 in 2016.  Tourism suffered due to the pandemic and this was no exception in Gibraltar.  However, we have made a quick recovery especially in the cruising industry and statistics prove our hard work. Whatever my detractors may say, and they need to realise that every time they play down the efforts of the Government, they are damaging Gibraltar’s business prospects, I will continue marketing Gibraltar because that is what our retail and hospitality industries want and expect from me.  It is not easy in this very competitive industry but I will strain every sinew to deliver on all fronts.  At the same time, I will always continue to put Gibraltar first and leave party politics to the opposition!

Mr Speaker, in February I attended the CONNECT Route Development Forum in Tangier.  The aim of this conference is to bring together the aviation industry to discuss current matters and the future of aviation.  This gave me the opportunity to engage with airlines that currently fly to Gibraltar but most importantly target the Moroccan airlines.  The goal is to have an air link with Morocco for commercial and social purposes.  I keep on pushing hard on this Mr Speaker, but it can be so frustrating at times.

Mr Speaker, the European Cruise Summit was held in Paris this year. Politicians, CEO’s and presidents of the most important cruise lines in the world such as Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group, TUI Cruise and Crystal Cruises amongst others joined the conference.

I was introduced to one of the principal speakers at the conference, the Spanish Secretary of State for Tourism, Ms Rosana Morillo, who I had a brief conversation with.  Once again, meeting Ministers from different countries allows us to exchange views and learn.

In my view Gibraltar should attend all important conferences not only to keep the business we currently hold but also to keep on building.  It is clear that I am extremely ambitious for Gibraltar’s cruising industry and believe we have to attract more calls and this is what I am non-stop striving to deliver.  Mr Speaker, one doesn’t know how difficult this is unless you are in there on a daily basis like I am.  It is extremely easy to criticize from the opposition benches.  Their tourism spokesman has a tendency to do so without offering any substantial solutions or new policies. That is the style of politics that he practices. I have given the Hon Member the opportunity to work together for the sake of Gibraltar at least to talk, but no, Mr Speaker, he is not interested.  I wonder why!  While a robust opposition, which they are certainly not, is a fundamental component of a thinking democracy, it is disheartening when criticism is driven solely by political motives, at the expense of our chances of conducting our business matters in private, away from prying eyes of our competitive neighbours.


Mr Speaker, together with the CEO of tourism and the Captain of the Port I attended the Seatrade Global event in Fort Lauderdale. Seatrade Global is the largest annual cruise gathering in the world. Over 13,000 professionals came together to innovate, uncover new trends and secure partnerships. It gave the Gibraltar team an opportunity, once again, to reconnect with this important sector, put forward our case for increased cruise calls and set out our ambitions within the industry.  We need to do this regularly, our competitors do it all the time and we need to make sure that we are there.  This is how the cruise industry works, Mr Speaker it was an intense few days of marketing and networking. There seems to be new competition every day. I met with twenty-five cruise companies at this conference which was very fruitful as the meetings were primarily with the itinerary planners. These are people that have an important influence in the destinations that they visit and it was a good opportunity to hear from them directly. That is why Gibraltar’s presence at these events is necessary and the Government’s commitment to the cruising sector is unquestionable.

Mr Speaker, in April we had the pleasure of welcoming Götheborg of Sweden to our shores. This is the world’s largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship. It is a unique replica of an 18th century Swedish East India Company merchant ship that sank outside of Gothenburg in 1745. It was a sight to behold and members of the public were able to visit the ship for a tour. I must say it sparked huge interest with visitors and locals alike and I hope to arrange something similar very soon.

Mr Speaker, over the last few months the CEO has have been engaging with Spanish tour operators, with the summer season upon us and increased amount of tourists expected in the Costa del Sol this year.  This is an important market and we will continue with the one to one engagement.

Mr Speaker, I attended the Cruise Lines International Association conference in Southampton in May where I hosted a dinner for senior cruise executives prior to the conference.  This was a first and really allowed me the opportunity to engage with senior players where only Gibraltar was the subject of conversation.  I look forward to hosting similar events in the near future.

Mr Speaker, as you know, this Government truly believes in Equality.  The Gibraltar Tourist Board have installed hearing loops (audio induction loops) at each tourist information office, (John Mackintosh Square, Frontier and Cruise Terminal).  These loops have been placed to assist people with hearing impairments. 

The introduction of the hearing loops is part of our commitment in ensuring an accessible and inclusive environment for all Gibraltar’s visitors, so that every visitor may be able to discover first-hand the truly wonderful sites and history that Gibraltar has to offer.

I now move to the Air Terminal.


Air Terminal

Gibraltar Airport’s post COVID recovery is well under way and the work done by HMGoG during this period to consolidate on our existing routes is evident as passenger figures have returned to 2019 levels.


 2022 finished off with a 70% increase in passenger movements when compared to 2021 with 446,187 passengers being handled which places the airport back on the path to the 0.5 million mark.


Increased capacity on some of the routes on our scheduled services is being achieved with aircraft configured to a higher seating capacity.


The return to normality in the aviation industry has also brought with it a return to more traditional levels of traffic both for Scheduled and Non-Scheduled Services.

Movements have increased, with an overall growth of 18.3%, although there has been a slight downturn in our Non-Scheduled Services.

This is in part due to the EU/UK Air Transport Services Agreement not allowing European operators to transport passengers directly from the UK to Gibraltar, and the return of better point-to-point links being provided by scheduled services post COVID. Hopefully the situation should improve once the current BREXIT negotiations are concluded.

Gibraltar this summer will again be served with thirty-nine weekly flights distributed as follows:

  • London Heathrow –              15
  • London Gatwick –              14
  • Manchester –                7
  • Bristol –                3


The first quarter of 2023 has also shown positive growth with an average 24.5% increase to the same period last year.


A welcome innovation this year is British Airways addition of an extra flight to London Heathrow on Saturdays, increasing their frequency to three daily flights.


This increase is being spread out over 22 Saturdays over the Summer Schedule, and is a first for Gibraltar Airport and a welcome increase in capacity and is an excellent example of the Government working in partnership with the airlines to achieve mutual benefits.  This is good for overnight tourism, this is good for retail, this is good for restaurants, this is good for our hotels and Mr Speaker, this is good for Gibraltar PLC on the whole.  But what do we get from the tourism spokesman opposite? First of all, nothing positive, no surprises there Mr Speaker.  He says that and I quote “this doesn’t compare with the high levels of activity at Malaga airport” and that Malaga have 15 new European routes with Easyjet this year. Doesn’t he know that Gibraltar airport cannot receive flights from Europe?  What is he comparing?  Malaga airport had 19.85 million passenger movements in 2019, what a ridiculous comparison Mr Speaker.


If that is the level of his understanding of the airline industry, then god help us!


It is also the second year that Easyjet has a daily service to Manchester.  This has become a very popular route with our passengers and provides excellent access to the northern part of the United Kingdom.


Manchester Airport is itself becoming an important hub with 171 destinations and this service brings with it excellent opportunities to expand connections with Gibraltar.


Load factors during 2022 and to date in 2023 on all routes continue to be healthy and over the 80% mark, with some in their 90’s.


Unfortunately, Gibraltar Airport has continued to be affected by flight disruptions due to issues outside its control.  HMGoG’s position on this is subject is very clear and categorical.

The Ministry of Defence must ensure that all of the services it provides for the proper functionality of the airfield are adequately resourced and with robust Business Continuity Plans in place for all eventualities so that flight operations to Gibraltar Airport can continue without interruption.


In November, the Air Terminal took part in the Airfield Crash Exercise, aimed at testing and validating the response practices and procedures in place for such an incident, organised in conjunction with the Government’s Civil Contingencies Office and RAF Gibraltar.


There was also an element of Aircraft Post-Crash Management which dealt with the restoration of normality and the reopening of the airfield as quickly as possible after an incident.  The Lessons Identified after the exercise have all been incorporated into the Gibraltar Airport Emergency Orders and disseminated to all participating agencies.




Mr Speaker, moving on to The Port, 2022 has also been a challenging year, the global geo-political situation, particularly the events unfolding in Ukraine have had an inevitable impact in the maritime industry internationally, and also a very concrete effect in Gibraltar. These events have come at a time when shipping was attempting to recover from the dramatic impact of the Covid pandemic.  We have also faced disruption to port operations due to weather conditions, and of course we have faced the challenging situation involving the OS35. The removal of the wreck is now complete and preparations are now in place for it to be transported away from Gibraltar.  This has taken a lot of the efforts and resources of the Port to follow up and progress this removal.  But, despite all of this, the Gibraltar Port Authority has managed to perform well financially during the last financial year.

Mr Speaker, we have seen somewhat of a seesaw effect in different sectors of the port’s activity during 2022 with a drop in overall vessel and bunker calls against increased activity in Ship to Ship and Off Port Limit operations.  This pattern has continued into 2023.  However, we did see a welcomed increase in cruise calls during 2022 against the previous two years. We cannot hide from the huge challenges that the cruise industry continues to face following the COVID19 pandemic and Gibraltar will be affected, partly due to repositioning of vessels and changes in itineraries where focus has moved from the Western Mediterranean to the Eastern Med.  For some people COVID didn’t happen, COVID was an excuse, they live on another planet Mr Speaker, but, in the real world we know what the truth is.  Ask those who nearly lost their jobs, ask those who nearly lost their business and ask those who lost their loved ones, was COVID really an excuse?


But we move on Mr Speaker, Superyacht visits have also taken a hit, especially as many of the bigger superyachts were Russian-owned or linked but despite that we are seeing some resilience in general yacht calls and we anticipate that Gibraltar will see a steady level of activity during 2023 due to its reputation as a reliable port to call at for crew changes, supplies and other important services.  We will continue to monitor this particular activity closely and continue to liaise with our partners in the superyacht industry as well.

Mr Speaker, direct engagement and face to face marketing remains the cornerstone of the Port’s marketing strategy and with the easing of COVID restrictions last year we were able to attend a number of prestigious face to face events and hold some of our own. 

His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar Maritime Services hosted Gibraltar Maritime Day in London in February of this year.  This was an extremely successful event with an exceptional level of interest and a model on which we plan to base future events on in different jurisdictions.  Mr Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our sponsors and partners involved in these events.  Without their support, both commercially and financially, it would be virtually impossible to carry out this type of marketing.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to report that the third Maritime Week Gibraltar event was held at the end of June.  There was huge external interest in this event.  Delegates from all over the world attended proving that Gibraltar’s reputation in maritime circles is at an all-time high.  I must give a special mention to our local stake holders once again and partners who worked extremely hard to make this a success.

We are also involved in London International Shipping Week, a bi-annual prestigious and internationally renowned event scheduled for September.  Mr Speaker, His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar Maritime Services will be hosting a very prominent reception during this event to be held on the rooftop of the IMO building in London and anticipated guests include the UK Secretary of State for Shipping, IMO Secretary General and a very high calibre list of guests who are leaders in their industries.  We look forward to joining our partners in delivering this exciting event and generating interest and business opportunities for Gibraltar Port as a whole.

Mr Speaker, I now turn to the Authority’s finances.  As already mentioned at the beginning, the Authority has managed to perform well considering all the obstacles faced over the last financial year.

Revenue for the Financial year ending 2023 was £8,255,035 against an estimated figure of £7,819,000. 

Expenditure came in at £7,273,896 against a budget of £7,028,000.  The overspill in expenditure was due to higher than anticipated insurance renewal costs for the Port and the cost of hiring out fenders throughout the year, as well as on some cleaning services.

As for Capital Expenditure, the Authority had allocated only £161,022 under Capex at the end of the financial year against a budget of £622,000.  Due to tender processes and the ongoing OS35 incident, some projects had not been completed within the financial year, however, costs were incurred in respect of the following items: – 

  • Purchase of Launch – £100,000
  • IT Upgrades – £27,864.61
  • Met station & Visibility Sensor replacements – £12,893.21
  • Fender Disposal – £12,800.00
  • North Mole Fender Feasibility Survey – £3,500.00
  • Office Furniture Expenses- £2,854.38
  • Gas Monitoring Equipment – £1,110.00

Mr Speaker, as reported at my last budget speech, both the senior management team at the Port Authority and the Ministry for the Port continue to look at ways of further increasing port activity and in turn increasing revenue streams.  A review of port tariffs is currently under way and a full consultation process will commence with stakeholders to ensure a fair and reasonable approach is taken so as not to have a detrimental impact on business for the Port. 

Mr Speaker, in 2022 I reported that refurbishment and repairs of the Watergardens marina would commence shortly, a project which had previously been put on hold due to the pandemic.   I am pleased to confirm that this project is now underway with detailed planning taking place between the Port Authority and the contractor appointed to deliver this project.  I would have liked to have started this project earlier but it simply hasn’t been possible.

Mr Speaker, I alluded at the beginning of my statement to the negative impact which the OS 35 incident had on port operations during the latter part of 2022.  This significant incident has proved to be extremely challenging for my team at the Port Authority and in particular, senior management.  I must take this opportunity to commend them all for the way in which this incident has been handled, something which has been recognised internationally.  A special mention for the Captain of the Port, John Ghio.  He has had numerous sleepless nights over the last 10 months.  He has given his all and I consider myself extremely lucky to have him as Captain.  I must also thank our local partners and stakeholders for the support shown to the Authority.  The community of the Port is our biggest strength and asset and while size does matter for some things, being a small tight-knit community continues to be a core strength for the maritime sector in Gibraltar, and as has been shown in this instance a significant advantage.

Finally, Mr Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank my whole team at the Port Authority for their continuing efforts to deliver, this makes my role as Minister for the Port a lot easier.

Mr Speaker, these remain challenging times but we will strive to meet and where possible, excel.


Gibraltar Maritime Administration

Mr Speaker, I will now turn to the Gibraltar Maritime Administration (GMA).


The post of Registrar of Ships was filled in March. Whilst this is very good news, the current uncertainties continue to negatively affect the size of the existing registered fleet, as some ships continue to migrate to EU flags and the rate of new ship registrations has been slow in picking up. However, on a positive note, following expression of interests, we anticipate further vessels to register within the next few months. The Yacht Registry remains largely unaffected, with figures remaining stable. Also, the Small Ship Register also continues to grow as per the trend in recent years.


The fleet size on the 01 May 2023 was 149 ships, 883 yachts and 317 Small Ships registered in Gibraltar. The total combined tonnage of the Gibraltar fleet on the 01 May 2023 was 945,335 GT.


The Gibraltar Ship Register remained “White-listed” within the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on port state control during 2022. The “White List” represents quality flags with a consistently low detention record. In addition, the Gibraltar Ship Register remained in the United States Coastguard ‘Qualship 21’ programme.  The “Qualship 21” programme is an initiative to identify high-quality ships, and provide incentives to encourage quality operations. The Gibraltar Ship Registry is only one of a select few of registers which continues to meet the requirements for full participation in the QUALSHIP 21 programme.


The Gibraltar Ship and Yacht Registries also rated favourably within the annual International Chamber of Shipping’s (ICS’s) ‘Flag State Performance Table’ 2023. The Gibraltar register once again achieved positive results. These included the performance of the Administration, ratification of International Conventions, completion of International Labour Organisation reports, attendance at IMO meetings as part of the UK flag and participation in the UN IMOs Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) member audit scheme.


The GMA retained its ISO 9001:2015 quality accreditation following the successful completion of a two-day recertification audit by SGS (Soceite Generale de Surveillance). By maintaining ISO accreditation, the GMA continues to show its stakeholders the department’s commitment to continuous process improvement, enhancing efficiency and maintaining its high standard of service delivery. The Department’s continued positive performances during external audits, is evidence of the hard work and commitment of the staff at the GMA.


The GMA’s primary goals remain to reach pre-BREXIT levels in terms of fleet size and revenue and the continued operation of the register, which is based on high standards and the quality of its registered fleet.


Throughout last year, the GMA has continued to receive very positive feedback in relation to the introduction of its IMO compliant statutory electronic certificates for ships and seafarers. The transition to electronic certification has resulted in greater speed of dispatch of documents, improved traceability, enhanced security and a reduction of administrative burden on the Department and Clients. Also, the introduction of the E-Certificates and the cloud based GMA/client interface portal for survey related functions has resulted in saving in time and the reduction of the usage of paper for both the Department and clients.


The introduction of the simplified fees structure last year has also been well received. Importantly, the revision of fees has also resulted in an increase in revenue.


Mr. Speaker, the GMA also launched its revamped website in keeping with the Departments commitment and strategy to provide improved and enhanced e-services to its clients. The website contains all of the standard information on the ship and yacht register, registration procedures and access to shipping guidance and information notices. Importantly, the revamped website has improved the interaction with our customers, by providing some of the services we provide online 24/7, such as requesting of vessel transcripts, verification of seafarer documentation, the facility to check the availability of vessel names and the submission of documents to the GMA via a designated portal. Clients can also obtain all of the necessary forms required for ship and mortgage registration and as well as application for seafarer certification online. 


The improvements mentioned above have no doubt increased the register’s attractiveness in what is a very competitive global market.


Mr. Speaker, the GMA’s Seafarers’ Division continues to issue a significant number of provisional and full term flag state endorsements. Since May 2022 to May 2023, the GMA issued a total of 1142 certificates to seafarers of many nationalities who serve on board our registered fleet.


The GMA has continued with its hard work of promoting its ship and yacht register abroad. This work included engaging in face to face meetings with established clients, as well as exploring new avenues to diversify its fleet, by targeting potential new clients.


Members of the GMA registry team visited the (Shipbuilding, machinery and marine technologies industries) exhibition in Hamburg, Germany in September 2022. SMM Hamburg is held biennially and is regarded as the leading international trade fair for the maritime industry bringing together decision-makers and industry professionals from all sectors. The fair attracts over 30,000 visitors. The visit to SMM Hamburg was combined with visits to long standing clients based within the Hamburg area.


Working in partnership with local ship representatives, the GMA also visited ship owners in the UK, Netherlands and the Leer area of Germany in October 2022 and in February 2023.


On the 02 February 2023, the GMA participated in the inaugural Gibraltar Maritime Day in London.  Members of the GMA gave a presentation on the Gibraltar Ship Registry and participated in a panel discussion with Gibraltar stakeholders involved in the business of ship and mortgage registration. The presentation and discussion focussed on the partnership approach to registering ships and yachts in Gibraltar including the many benefits its registers and Gibraltar as a jurisdiction has to offer to owners and the wider shipping industry.


As part of its ongoing marketing campaign, the GMA will be attending a series of events and shipping exhibitions within the upcoming months. One of these events is the biennial London International Shipping Week 2023 which is due to take place in September.


On the yachting side, the Registrar of Yachts attended the Monaco Yacht Show in September 2022. The Registrar of Yachts, met with representatives of important builders and managers. The GMA will once again attend this year’s show in September.


Recently, the Registrar of Yachts and Maritime Administrator also attended the Palma International Boat Show. They took part in a Yacht Master’s event where they participated in a panel discussion on Yacht management. During their visit, the GMA also met important stakeholders and promoted the many benefits it had to offer to Master’s, owners and managers. 


Locally, the GMA hosted Gibraltar Maritime Week in the last week of June. This was the third edition of this biennial event and provided a global showcase for the Register.  The GMA staff once again delivered the popular Ship/Yacht registration course, which is aimed at providing an insight on the Gibraltar Registries, ship registration legislation and requirements, the registration process and the unique advantages Gibraltar has to offer.


Mr. Speaker, the GMA continues to work closely with the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Red Ensign Group (REG). Members of the GMA participated in the annual Red Ensign Group Conference, in May 2023 in the Cayman Islands. The conference allows all of the British registries the opportunity to meet in person and hold discussions on current matters of interest to the group. The conference provides a forum where members can share best practice and collective work towards improving the group’s performance commercially and by continuing to set exemplary standards.   


From the 7th to 8th March, the Maritime Administrator and Chief Surveyor joined representatives from across the Red Ensign Group, in the REG Technical Forum which was held in Southampton. Additionally, throughout the year, the GMA also participated in the different REG technical working group meetings. Both the Technical Forum and associated working group meetings, support the REG conference and look at how best to make sure there is consistent application of technical policy across the British fleet including the development of new technical standards.


In collaboration with the UK and other REG members, the GMA has continued with its monitoring programme of Recognised Organisations and Certifying Authorities. This important part of the work the GMA undertakes, ensures that statutory survey and certification functions delegated to the accepted Recognised Organisations (RO) and Certifying Authorities (CA) is conducted in compliance with agreed standards.


As part of its responsibilities/discharge of functions as a flag state, GMA surveyors continue to undertake audits, surveys and inspections of Gibraltar registered ships and companies. This work is crucial for ensuring effective jurisdiction and control over our fleet in terms of quality standards, but is also essential for keeping a close relationship and building rapport with clients.


The GMA once again hosted surveyors from other REG members for the purpose of providing them Port State Control related training and experience. One member of the Falkland Islands Maritime Authority spent a period of two weeks shadowing Port State Control Officers from the GMA.  Surveyors from Jersey are scheduled to join the GMA team in September 2023 for similar training experience. The GMA has become a leader within the REG in relation to this field and during the past few years, the GMA has provided training for surveyors from Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Bermuda, Isle of Man and UK.  The GMA’s contribution as a provider of Port State Control training was recognized by the REG during the Technical Forum in March.


Locally, the GMA continues to provide technical support to the Gibraltar Port Authority and other Government Departments, authorities and agencies. Members of the GMA also provided technical support and continue to be part of the multi-agency team involved with the OS35 incident.


In addition, the GMA hosted two Bachelor of Science students from the Gibraltar Maritime Academy. The interns spent three months within the different sections within the Department and accompanied surveyors on ship visits.


The GMA also continues to work closely with the Government’s Law Office in ensuring Gibraltar is in a position to implement and enforce the provisions of new International instruments or amendments to existing instruments, through appropriate Gibraltar Merchant Shipping legislation. This includes work relating to the Ballast Water Convention, amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention and the Maritime Labour Convention to name a few examples.


The GMA continues to play a crucial role within the Gibraltar maritime cluster, both as a facilitator of international trade and by providing significant expertise and skills to the jurisdiction. Through its highly rated Register, comprised of a global trading fleet, the GMA provides Gibraltar with a significant advantage over many other international maritime centres. Working in partnership with its stakeholders, the GMA aims to continue with its efforts to promote its high quality service and the many benefits its register and Gibraltar as a jurisdiction has to offer to owners, and the wider international shipping industry.


I would like to thank the Maritime Administrator, Dylan Cocklan, and his team for the hard work they have put in throughout the year.



Gibraltar Parcel Post

Mr Speaker, I turn to my Royal Gibraltar Post Office responsibilities. I want to commence by thanking the Postal Services team for their efforts. The financial year 2022/2023 was turbulent for the Royal Gibraltar Post Office (RGPO) due to the prolonged strikes at Royal Mail.


The RGPO have made herculean efforts to deliver a record year of excellent performance despite the difficulties and delays due to factors out of their control. Over 100,000 parcels have been processed and delivered within the past 12 months, and the Parcel Post has worked with a 24-hour processing window – 6 days a week (Sunday to Friday).


The Post Office offers uninterrupted delivery service and receipt of parcels and letters to all 192 Universal Postal Union member countries.  Furthermore, local delivery services have continued six days per week, Monday to Saturday. 


The Postal Service introduced a new and improved customer service experience by reviewing and restructuring its resources on the customer services clerical team to meet increased customer demand and expectations.  The customer services team at the Main Street Office measure our daily performance and is constantly managing phones, emails and attending to the public.  In addition, a new customer service office was set up at the Mail Centre, managed by two staff members.  The new system evaluates the total customer experience, from customer services at the counters to delivery services and allows the RGPO to identify areas in need of improvement and to better adjust to customer needs.


Local businesses and residential consumers within Gibraltar rely on the RGPO as the universal service provider for their standard local and international letter and parcel post services. Therefore, meeting a sufficiently high standard of service for users is of significant importance. Over 3,000 enquiries were received for postal tracking, mail redirections, parcel collections, change of address, tracking services and, of course, the COVID certificate printing and delivery, which has been the responsibility of the Postal Service since its inception with over 31,000 Covid certificates printed and delivered to Gibraltar residents. 


The Global Monitoring System is a state-of-the-art measurement system managed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU) International Bureau. The Universal Postal Union is the United Nations specialised agency with 192 postal operator members and is the postal sector’s primary forum for international cooperation. The primary objective is to provide each participant with accurate, high-quality operational results. The RGPO delivered 87.25% of local mail within two working days. Its international next-day delivery performance monitored by independent international organisations, has achieved an overall performance result of 88% and a ‘next-day delivery service’ performance result of 100% during December 2022.  This information is used to determine Universal Postal Union terminal dues remuneration, according to a performance bonus system established within the UPU, and to contribute to informed operational and quality improvement decisions. Much hard work has gone into achieving this target.


All postal operators apply the measuring system and use external panellists to exchange test items for the participating countries. The test items contain a radio frequency identification (RFID) transponder read by RFID antennae installed at operational facilities where the postal traffic is received and processed. This process generates the main portion of the information required to determine the quality of service.


The RGPO has Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) scanners at various entry points. The RFID tags are inside anonymous envelopes hidden in standard letter dispatches. The RFID scanners read these tags as they pass through the entrance door at the receiving Postal Operator and again on exit, so it accurately measures when the letter is received by post and is out for delivery with the postal worker. The recipient (panellist) will then log into a website to confirm receipt of the letter. Thus postal operators can have accurate information on the test letters, perform analysis and produce reports concerning the delivery on time performances for their operations.


All RGPO operations continued to benefit from increased data on mail flows which, combined with new systems and management tools, highlight opportunities to improve service consistency and efficiency. Process standardisation, especially in how mail is sorted, is helping integrate data across sections, reduces variability, and provides more consistent and predictable end-to-end service performance.


This year, delivery walks have increased from 13 to 17 due to new developments and housing estates. We have worked closely with the postal delivery staff and unions to account for the increase in local delivery points.


Mr Speaker, I am very proud to see the red electric postal vehicles operating on deliveries around Gibraltar daily. This was one of my first projects when I started in Government and is part of the Government’s Manifesto commitment to a Green Gibraltar. The RGPO 3 years later continue to lead in environmental policies after investing in an entire fleet of electric cars, which at the time was thought impossible. Other organisations have followed suit, and more private companies and many Goevernment departments now also include electric vehicles as part of their fleet—the electric cars aid the Post Office in delivering an emission-free postal service to the community. Furthermore, our postal workers complete many delivery walks within the town area on foot, showing a willingness to contribute to our environmental mission. Working hand in hand with local companies to promote programs such as recycling mail, cardboard and plastics adds to our mission of becoming an entirely environmentally friendly and carbon-neutral logistics operation.


Mr Speaker, I was very proud to lead the Royal Gibraltar Post Office’s new Parcel Post System (EPOST) launched in 2021, which continues to grow in popularity. As a result, 10,529 Gibraltar residents have registered in our Parcel Post System and receive, free of charge, all postal notifications electronically, thus saving in costs, reducing the number of printed notification cards and helping our green policy by reducing our collection notice deliveries to the recipient. Additionally, all registered customers are informed electronically when their parcels have arrived and are ready for collection, making the receiving and delivery process quicker and easier. Payment of customs charges and duties can be made online, which helps reduce

waiting times. 


Gibraltar’s iconic red post boxes, which are part of Gibraltar’s heritage and tourism products, provide an easy and convenient way for our customers to post letters. The RGPO has embarked on a restoration and maintenance programme for the last five years, ensuring every pillar box is repainted and restored at least every two years. In addition, we have added five more pillar boxes strategically placed around Gibraltar to cater for the increased population in areas such as Eastern Beach and the South District. All Gibraltar pillar boxes are collected daily at 07.00, and the mail collected is sorted and delivered within the same day, except on Sundays.


The new cypher for King Charles III has been unveiled. Inspiration has been drawn from past Ciphers but there are practical considerations about how cyphers appear on letter boxes.

The Royal Gibraltar Post Office awaits a cast iron post box and a more modern pillar box with the new King’s Cipher. The final design will include the crown above the Cipher, with the Roman numerals for three. At present, there are only 4 decorated post boxes to celebrate the coronation across the UK.

Gibraltar will have its own official King Charles Post Box before the end of 2023. Gibraltar boasts the only known street that has an example of a letter box from each British Monarch since they were first introduced in 1852 during the reign of Queen Victoria, so undoubtedly, the cast iron King Charles III post box will be located in the town area so that our locals and tourist can enjoy a walk down Gibraltar‘s Main Street and see these historic letter boxes.

A clear direction continues to be established to continue with improvements, which has already led to noticeable performance improvements and financial savings. As a result, the RGPO saved 69,381 in its expenditure budget for 2022/2023. Furthermore, further savings are expected during the financial year 2023/2024, thanks to operational efficiencies and cost reduction exercises whilst improving performance. 


We continue to see a substantial volume of incoming parcels due to the continuous growth of e-commerce purchases. The RGPO takes very seriously its responsibilities in ensuring parcel values and contents are correctly declared and works closely with HM CUSTOMS and enforcement agencies. Another critical security aspect for the RGPO is the Dangerous and Prohibited Items in the mail. The Civil Aviation Authority conducted an extensive audit in 2023 on Postal Operations in Gibraltar, handling parcels and letters from a security perspective. These items are then transported by air on commercial flights. I am pleased that the Post Office succeeded in this audit and met all the Civil Aviation Authority set out criteria.  


Last year, I reported that the Universal Postal Union (UPU) announced new regulatory changes as from the 1st of January that meant it is a requirement to provide electronic pre-advice customs data (also known as electronic advance data or EAD) on all parcel items containing goods or merchandise to international destinations. As a result, the Post Office launched a new application (APP) and added new services online to allow users to complete this data before coming to the Post Office. This has been a massive success without any significant issues encountered by the public and businesses. 


As the Minister with responsibilities for Postal Services, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the postal workers at the Mail Centre and Main Street Office for the work done seven days a week and for ensuring that Gibraltar is connected to the rest of the world, literally speaking.  At the same time, I would like to thank Glendon Martinez, the director of Postal Services, for his sterling work throughout the year.


Finally, in March this year, two long-time employees of the RGPO, Mr Paul Acolina and Mr Stephen Borrell, retired after over 35 years at the Post Office. I congratulate them both on their retirement and thank them for the incredible years of work they have given.   I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Sabina Pitaluga who will retire next month.  Sabina has done an amazing job behind the scenes quietly getting on with the daily running of the RGPO.  She will be missed.




Mr Speaker, as reported in the past, my Ministry is a strategic partner of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC).  The Gibraltar Office was opened two years ago to assist strategic partners to establish, develop and sustain a network of productive relationships across the Commonwealth’s Global business ecosystem in order to enable sustainable growth.

In June last year I attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali.  The meeting brought together delegations from 54 countries within the Commonwealth family.  It allowed me to discuss possible business opportunities with investors and show case Gibraltar as a successful business jurisdiction.  Events like these allow us to network with business and political leaders and promote the Gibraltar brand in every sector.


I was also invited to participate in a panel discussion on “Sustainable Tourism” and Mr Speaker, I was given the opportunity to meet and briefly speak to HRH the then Prince of Wales and now King Charles III.  It was an absolute honour as I would never have thought that we would go through the sad loss of Her Majesty the Queen a few months later.

Overall, Mr Speaker, this was an extraordinary opportunity to showcase Gibraltar politically, economically and as a successful nation within the wider Commonwealth family.

Mr Speaker, my attendance at the Commonwealth Trade and Investment Summit in London last December allowed me to continue discussions with persons I had previously met and also gave me the opportunity to make new contacts. These varied from Heads of Government, Ministers; including the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and senior business leaders.


This two-day event was organised by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council which consisted of meetings and networking.  I also took part in a presentation at Gibraltar House to showcase investment opportunities in Gibraltar, where over 40 guests attended from Nigera, Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon, Serbia and Australia.  I was also invited to take part in round table discussion titled “The future of the global workplace”. 

All this, Mr Speaker, raises Gibraltar’s profile within the Commonwealth family.

Mr Speaker, I look forward to further collaborate with CWEIC as the Commonwealth is important to Gibraltar as we move into a post Brexit world.

Locally, Mr Speaker, I continue to meet regularly with the Chamber of Commerce and the Gibraltar Federation of Small Business.   It has been a difficult few years.  The recovery from COVID has thankfully been swift.  The Government’s actions during the pandemic cannot be forgotten.  By doing what we did, we saved businesses and we saved jobs.  This has allowed the swift recovery I am referring to.  My door is always open to them and I look forward to working closely with them and dealing with the concerns they might have.

One of the concerns has been obtaining bank finance for start-ups. To that end, I will be launching a new scheme. It will be known as “The Gibraltar Enterprise Scheme” This is being finalized and I hope to make a detailed announcement in the next few weeks.





Mr Speaker, it has been another challenging year.  It is not easy in Government, far from it, even lonely at times.  My colleagues and I have done everything possible to make sure that we deliver the best for our people.  Have we made some mistakes, Mr Speaker? Of course we have!  Would we have liked to have done more? Of course we would have! But we need to put things into perspective, these last four years have probably been the most problematic in the history of Gibraltar.

Mr Speaker, I cannot end without thanking my Hon friend the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister.  They have done a mammoth job over the last few years dealing with the E.U treaty.  They have given it their all and more.  They have left no stone unturned, worked non-stop around the clock, weekends, no family time, Mr Speaker Gibraltar is extremely fortunate to have them at the helm at this important juncture in our history.

And I have no doubt whatsoever that they will give it their all, once again, to make sure that they finish the job in a safe and secure manner for our people.

I would like to thank my team at the Ministry, I would struggle to do this job without them.  They have gotten to know me very well and know that I can be extremely demanding but they also know that I have a lot of time for them and care for them.

Mr Speaker thank you and the Parliament team for the excellent job that you all do.

And finally Mr Speaker, this year is election year and no doubt, the opposition will throw the kitchen sink at us, the whole shebang.  The absence of substantive solutions and new policies from them is a missed opportunity for robust debate.  It is not only about identifying flaws in Government policies but also about offering concrete alternatives that can be thoroughly evaluated and debated.  It can’t always be criticize, criticize, criticize but that is what they are about.

When they say something, they contradict what they said earlier.  Even they don’t believe what they say anymore! Mr Speaker.

Furthermore, without viable alternatives the opposition’s criticism comes across as nothing more than political posturing and grand standing. It is a means to scoring cheap points and gaining short-term political advantage, rather than a genuine effort to improve the lives of citizens and address the pressing issues facing Gibraltar.

We need more than empty rhetoric, Mr Speaker, because that is all they bring to the table.  Divisive politics and lack of vision is what this opposition is about.  Our Government is committed to upholding the values of transparency, progress and unity.  We believe in the potential of our nation and will continue working tirelessly to ensure a brighter future for all our people.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.