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In a break from our normal schedule

Well, in a change from my usual ruminations on current affairs, I thought I would mention that I am planning to take a scuba diving course. I am off to my regular haunt of Malta/Gozo this late-summer to do a PADI course, as well as relax down there. Yes, you have guessed it, people blog about scuba diving as well as many other pastimes these days. As a keen amateur sailor, I have always wanted to have a go at exploring what lies under the waves and the blue seas surrounding Gozo, in particular, look just too damn inviting. If any readers have any tips or suggestions on how to avoid rip-offs or other problems, I’d be very pleased to hear them.

The island of Gozo seems to be packed with diving school firms, such as these guys. The PADI courses, which are internationally recognised, are a good example of how a benchmark for a particular activity can arise without any central government agency decreeing it.

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12 comments to In a break from our normal schedule

  • Wolfie

    Is Malta a tax haven too? You could avoid rip-off taxes in Britain by staying there 9 months a year. Better hope they have good internet access though. Your contributions on Samizdata would be missed.

  • maas101

    Do the theory part of the PADI course in the UK along with the pool sessions. That is then transferrable when you do the open water dives. That way you aren’t spending 2 days of your holiday in a classroom. You can do the necessary open water dives in Malta and qualify.

  • Corey H.

    maas101, that’s true with some places but not others. I did my PADI Open Water Diver in Thailand in 2005 and they did the “pool” sessions in the ocean (about 3-4 metres deep). Even the theory sessions were conducted in an open bamboo hut on the beach by the resident Canadian instructors and I didn’t feel at all like I’d wasted some of my holiday in a classroom. Still, to each his own.

    Johnathan – hope you enjoy it mate, it’s great fun.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Guys, thanks for the comments. I am checking with the schools to see what they think.

    Wolfie: as far as I know, Malta has some tax benefits and it is also trying to make quite a bid for the casino industry, like Gibraltar.

    It is – alas – now in the European Union. Malta is very keen to be thought of as a European state, not a small island near the North African coast. There is still a pretty strong Anglosphere connection here because of its former status as a UK colony and vital naval base.

    I think that by joining the EU, the Maltese made the blunt calculation that they’d get some grants and some benefits. Malta has also joined the euro – it does not appear to have caused many problems. They have not had a major property boom there so the credit crunch has not been a big deal. That said, Maltese politics has been, and remains, a bit corrupt but not as bad as in neighbouring southern Italy.

  • RAB

    You lucky dog Johnathan, I love Malta!

    How the hell would they have a property boom though?
    Damn near every inch of the place looked to be built on already to me!

  • Is this a wise move, what with swine flu fever and all? Is it, erm, responsible? Of course, you will wear a mask (Link)while diving? But really, I don’t see how you can go off and enjoy yourself at a time like this. The best I can hope for is that you go, but feel wracked with guilt the whole time.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Marc, are you taking the piss?!

  • John Louis Swaine

    Hah! I just moved from Malta after two years there to spend some (non-resident, thank you Mr Tax Man) time in England.

    Given a choice between Gibraltar and Malta for operating an online gaming co. Malta was the better choice.

    Malta’s politics is a choice between slightly corrupt Pro-EU Nationalists (although my experiences don’t tally with such anecdotes) and the horrifically corrupt Socialist Maltese Labour Party (where they very much DO tally with such anecdotes).

    It has a reasonably low tax for residents (15-35% ‘progressive’) but not so great for non residents. However you only pay tax on earnings made in Malta and with the right financial planning can greatly minimize your liabilities.

    Nice island, people are kind and polite but living there long term is a little difficult. They’re a bit like the HK Chinese – there’s a line drawn between themselves and outsiders and it takes a long time to break through it to make friends – you have to be ‘vouched for’.

    Still, a good place to do business. The government is content to hoover up great pots of money from the EU and have an extremely favourable tax regime for foreign companies operating in Malta.

  • RayD

    Just don’t make the mistake I did in Malta, fill up the hire car then realise it’s only a twenty minute drive from one end of the Island to the other!

    My girlfriend pointed out that none of the road signs have distances because if you just look in that direction, you can see what it’s pointing to.

    If you like Stonehenge, have a look at Gargantua while you are there.

  • RAB

    JP is well and truly “vouched for” JLS. His wife is Maltese I believe.
    Daft bugger RayD! we used the bus. Pity about the absence of doors on them. We were there in Febuary just before they entered the Eu, and the roads were in a dreadful state! Bungs from the EU (i.e. us!) may have taken care of some of that.

    I think you mean Ggantija on Gozo by the way. Yes splendid.

    Being that we were there so early in the year, I thought it would be rather quiet.

    We arrived in the middle of the night, as you usually do, and I expected the hotel dining room to be half empty when we came down in the morning.
    Was it hell!
    It was full to bursting with Brit pensioners on very cheap full board deals of a couple of months duration.
    Well it makes sense. They saved a bundle on heating bills etc back home.

    And Valletta is such a sweet city. You can walk round all of it in about 20 minutes.

    Byron decribed it as ” a town built by gentlemen, for gentlemen” and he wasn’t wrong.

    Yep I could live on Malta no problem.

  • mehere

    Why does Gozo always remind me of the Muppets?

  • Great plan JP.

    But do us a favour… Let us all know about ze fishes of ze sea.