Talking about Business, Tourism, Transport and The Port . Uncovering Gibraltar’s Digital movers and shakers with VISU.AL.
An interview with The Minister for Business, Tourism, Transport and the Port.
Whilst only stepping into Government officially last year, Minister Daryanani has been interested in
politics from the tender age of 17, where he used to attend the House of Assembly to view
parliamentary proceedings. Fast forward to today where he is honoured to form part of our current
Government and to serve the community.
Originally a businessman, Vijay feels his time in the private sector has stood him in great stead now
that he is in Government. He believes that his experience in business has been integral to
understanding what businesses in Gibraltar are currently going through with Covid-19 and how best
to help them overcome the pandemic. The Government has offered its support where possible,
reducing rents and rates and implemented BEAT measures from April to June, where they paid the
wages of the businesses that were forced to close as a result of the lockdown in Gibraltar earlier this
year. Beat 2.0 was introduced as a further measure to provide support during the months of July to
date. Without these measures, many businesses would not have survived.
When asked about Gibraltar’s ‘shop local’ campaign and whether this has seen more people
spending their money in Gibraltar, he believes it has. The fact that locals are unable to visit Spain as
much, at this time, means that people are spending locally, which is essential for the market during
these unprecedented times. All this goes towards supporting local businesses and livelihoods.
Government has recently introduced a £4 parcel handling fee to continue to modernise its postal
services and introduce home delivery options arranged online. Vijay defends the introduction of this
new system stating it has resulted in a huge decrease in queues outside of the Post Office, a great
strategy to avoid people congregating, which is key during this time.
Covid has seen a real turn around in the way business is conducted in Gibraltar, including a real
spark of creativity from our local businesses, making the best of the circumstances and thinking
outside the box for ways to promote themselves. Vijay confesses that he enjoys shopping in person.
He likes to see and feel the product and maybe even try it on before purchasing. Due to restrictions,
it has been difficult for people to shop in person, and he believes that businesses in Gibraltar have
had to be innovative in their approach. Restaurants by contrast have been able to continue to trade
throughout the pandemic by adapting to a takeaway service. Retail businesses, however, have taken
to the internet, social media and direct delivery to homes as a way of keeping afloat. Some have
even taken advantage of the physical closure to refurbishing their premises.
These new trends tie in nicely with the Business Improvement District project that the Ministry is
currently working on with local businesses. Minister Daryanani confirms that this was actually
agreed upon before COVID occurred and was an idea that was brought forward by the Federation of
Small Businesses. He is strongly behind the notion, as he feels it will be good for Gibraltar, even
more so after COVID, and will ensure that not only Main Street will look fresher, but also town’s side
streets. Vijay believes the timing of this project could not be more important for Gibraltar’s
Tourism is one of the pillars of our economy that has been hit the hardest by the pandemic, with few
tourists able to enter Gibraltar since the lockdown. This has meant that that Ministry has had to
think very quickly to a constantly changing scenario. Vijay admits that having a vaccine will help us
restore to our original state quicker, but that we cannot predict what the next few months will bring.
For this reason, he is prepared for all eventualities.
Due to the lack of movement during this time, Minister Daryanani has focused on promoting
Gibraltar in Spain as a tourist destination on regional Spanish television. This has never been done
before, but has proved to be a good move, with more Spaniards entering Gibraltar to have a change
of scene. This has been great for Gibraltar’s economy, as it has seen more people coming in to spend
the day, have lunch and eat in our restaurants, visit the Upper Rock and other sites, tying this in with
some Christmas shopping in Main Street. For this reason, Vijay is confident that this campaign has
worked for Gibraltar, encouraging people from Spain to come to Gibraltar for the day, or maybe
even enjoy a staycation, which has been this year’s only way to holiday.
Social media has been used to help improve Gibraltar’s profile, by showing just what it has to offer
on Visit Gibraltar’s page. Fantastic footage has been released of The Thrill Seeker Walking Trail which
is likely to encourage people far and wide to visit and explore. Vijay is a big fan of Gibraltar and the
huge potential it has in the tourism sector. He is proud of the new and improved digital aspects that
the Visit Gibraltar campaign has in place, showcasing Gibraltar as a place of adventure, heritage and
culture, with lots to see and do. He is confident that these videos will help tourists see just that.
Another exciting development for Gibraltar has been the recent introduction of Wizz Air to join the
fleet of flights that come in daily from the UK by British Airways and easyJet. According to Vijay, this
is a great achievement as it is not often that a new airline is introduced, especially Wizz Air, which is
the fastest growing airline in Europe. The fact that they have included us shows confidence in
Gibraltar. There have always been great ties with the UK for travel as a result of business and
education. He hopes to expand on these, encouraging new routes to the UK, as well as other
countries. The Minister has a personal interest in this too, as he is a keen aviation enthusiast. In his
words, “one has to be ambitious; if we do not try, we won’t know what we can achieve. I will try
everything possible to make this happen for Gibraltar, and I have a funny feeling I am going to
TRANSPORT AND THE PORT
The Green Gibraltar campaign has been high on Minister Daryanani’s agenda since joining
Government but has not been without its challenges. Introducing change anywhere is difficult as it is
hard to change people’s habits and no more so than in Gibraltar.
One incentive that Vijay has introduced, is the no import duty on hybrid and electric cars. He is now
looking at increasing the amount of charging docks available for these cars, which is tricky as
technology is constantly changing. He is conscious not to invest in something for Gibraltar that will
not be relevant in a year’s time. He has specifically noticed this with electric vehicles. Previously
electric vehicles would not be able to climb some of Gibraltar’s steep hills, whereas nowadays these
have advanced and can do so with ease. This is something the Ministry has in mind with their plans
to introduce an electric bus fleet, which will initially be trialled on the flat routes. He believes with
the development of technology, the skies really are the limit for Gibraltar, where Government will be
able to implement more changes in support of their Green Gibraltar manifesto.
Covid has helped digitalise Governmental services on Minister Daryanani’s portfolio, such as
Licencing. Whilst this has been challenging as lots of staff members were forced to working from
home, which created a huge backlog on logbooks and licences, he is now pleased to confirm that it is
now up and running. Locals can now access forms online and apply electronically, which will be a
great time saving feature. Those looking to change to the International Driving Licence can now also
do so by accessing the form here: GIBRALTAR
Parking machines are something that the Ministry is also looking to develop, as these are not always
reliable. Vijay supports the idea of smart parking, where people will be able to check what parking
spaces are available prior to leaving the house. He wants to get an app up and running first and then
introduce more facilities such as paying and reserving parking slots for a certain time period. This use
of technology will make things easier and more efficient for those looking to park and hopefully
reduce traffic in the process, with people being able to plan ahead accordingly.
Tests have also been carried out on Line Wall Road in an attempt to reduce traffic and promote a
Green Gibraltar. Whilst Minister Daryanani recognises that Line Wall Road is a very important artery
in Gibraltar, the initial idea behind the closure of Line Wall Road was in order to change people’s
mindsets and to think twice about taking the car or motorbike unnecessarily, by using public
transport, bicycles or perhaps even walking. Whilst attempts have not been successful on this
occasion, Vijay stands by the fact that they are a listening Government, and that people’s views are
paramount. The intentions behind the closure were to encourage a greener Gibraltar, and he will
continue to explore ways to do so.
Minister Daryanani was commended, however, on his quick reaction to the lack of school buses on
the first day of school back in September. Many parents took to social media to voice their concerns
and the next day, new school buses were included to the existing bus fleet to ensure that children
could get to school. As mentioned, he hopes that these will shortly turn electric, plans of which will
be announced soon.
Cycle lanes are also on the cards to encourage more people to cycle. Minister Daryanani emphasises
the importance of cyclists being able to feel comfortable on the roads and will shortly be introducing
a campaign to ensure people are aware that cyclists are an important member of our road. Another
road member that was discussed was the newer technology; the electric scooter, which are
becoming more and more popular on Gibraltar’s roads. Vijay is hoping to publish legislation in the
new year for scooters to ensure that they are regulated, to include how they need to be driven, the
age of the driver, and the inclusion of indicators to name a few. Police will have powers to fine
people not abiding to laws in order to improve road safety.
With Vijay as the driving force, Gibraltar can expect to see digital changes in land, air and sea as they
develop. Minister Daryanani believes going digital is the way forward and that Gibraltar will not be
When asked about his favourite spot in Gibraltar, Vijay finds it hard to choose just one, naming the
Lighthouse for its beautiful views out to sea, as well as the air terminal balcony, where one can enjoy
the airfield and the rock up close. Queensway Quay marina is another favourite, where he likes to
enjoy a meal with family and friends.
His most frequently used app is WhatsApp as a way for communicating with people. He also enjoys
keeping up to date with newspaper apps and airline apps. This expands to his reading matter, where
he spends much of his time reading newspapers. In the past he had a passion for reading horror
mysteries, but unfortunately does not have the time to enjoy a good book that he used to. When
Vijay is not working, he likes to relax at home and catch up with the football.
When asked to name the initiative he is most passionate about, he sides with Green Gibraltar. He
strives for a child-friendly city where they are allowed to breathe clean air from less pollution and
cars, where they are able to enjoy more green spaces. The Gibraltar economy is another important
factor for Vijay, linked in with tourism. For him, Gibraltar and its airport have huge potential and a
lot to offer. He hopes during his time in office to help Gibraltar go even more upmarket, expanding
on Gibraltar’s excellent marina’s facilities for super yachts and hotels.
According to Minister Daryanani, his whole year in office has been a highlight. For him, serving the
people of Gibraltar is the biggest honour you can have, and the ability to make a difference has
really meant a lot. “I’m in this job to help people, because at the end of the day that is what politics
is all about
Words by Alexandra Caruana.