The Malta Independent 24 June 2019, Monday

Gozo’s best resources

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 13 January 2019, 09:13 Last update: about 6 months ago

The capabilities of our human resources in Malta and Gozo are the strongest wealth we have and should be acknowledged to secure more prosperity across the nation. After the huge success we have witnessed over the Christmas period, we have started the new year in Gozo with a special focus on the importance of our human resources.

This week, two particular events have emphasised the great value our workers bring to all our projects and initiatives.  It is said that all great things start with a clear vision of what is to be achieved and the Labour Government has set this out since March 2013. But every success is also in great measure due to the loyalty and hard work on the part of our workers. And this then goes full circle, in that economic success necessarily creates further employment, which is in itself a major aspect when it comes to measuring the nation's prosperity.  

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Recent official statistics indicate further impressive results regarding the considerable reduction in the number of people unemployed.  At both national and regional levels, this continuing success further confirms Labour's commitment to creating more jobs in Gozo for Gozitan workers.  Needless to say, such results encourage us to work harder towards greater achievements.

The Ministry's Worker of  the Year

The award of Worker of the Year at the Gozo Ministry is something I introduced in my first weeks at the Ministry, with the intention to give due recognition to those who distinguish themselves in the carrying out of their duties.  Its aim is to reward the skill, dedication, loyalty and hard work of Gozitans working in the Ministry. We are aware that the amount of work within the Ministry has continually grown, and an increased willingness on the part of its employees is being recognised in the way they carry out their duties skilfully and efficiently.

Apart from the commitment shown during working hours, the award also appreciates the exemplary behaviour and character of the nominee during and after working hours. Now in its second edition, no less than 51 people were nominated from among those working in the seven Directorates, together with those at the Offices of the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Information Officer.  Another honour was for a person who participated in the Community Workers Scheme.

Team spirit

In my speech to a packed hall at the award-presentation ceremony this week I explained that public service is in itself the kind of service that needs to be correct and punctual and, most importantly, meets the expectations of tax-payers.  This can be achieved through effective teamwork that goes beyond earning an income by also seeking genuine job satisfaction. This annual award is intended to encourage individual workers to further increase their output with a momentum that is already visible, while moving ahead in realising the Ministry's planned projects for Gozo. As expected, the event proved to be a manifestation of the team spirit that is fast growing at the Gozo Ministry.

Whilst congratulating the winners and those who were nominated by their peers, I sincerely thank each employee for their efforts and efficiency in securing continuity and success in all our plans and projects for our island-region. It is also to be noted that our team of public servants continued achieving awards during 2018 among the best in several European categories and classified among the first 11 high performers in e-Government by the United Nations.  Although such awards are not usually given any publicity, we should - on a national basis - be proud of those who serve our  country in the many Ministries and Departments, giving their very best with their high degrees of efficiency.

 

Best worker in the tourist industry

On a similar note, on Friday I had the pleasure of addressing the distinguished gathering of operators and workers at the 11th Gozo Tourism Awards organised annually by the Gozo Tourism Association.  The main objective of these awards is to acknowledge, commend, encourage and thank all the workers, entrepreneurs and entities who distinguish themselves in the carrying out of their duties in the vital tourist industry in Gozo.

Our island-region has a wealth of culture and traditions, brimming over with artistic talent that has reached world fame away from our shores. We offer visitors a community with an ever-growing potential and creativeness for achieving the economic and social success that only resilience, professional training and determination can achieve.

It is, however, imperative that people receive the highest level of service when they visit our island, as this is what makes Gozo stand out as a different and distinct tourist destination.  The tourism sector is highly volatile and therefore we must continue to constantly improve both the skills and the product on offer.  

Effective synergy

Needless to say, the excellent results we are producing are proof of the synergy the Gozo Ministry is achieving  with all its stakeholders. This was, in fact, the main focus of my speech, during which I also gave an overview of the many projects being realised by the Gozo Ministry intended to enhance Gozo's tourist product.

Planning and working together in scheduling the long list of events we have to offer throughout the year has already shown unprecedented results during 2018. However, there is always room for improvement and better synergy in the sector towards further upgrading the final product which, in all circumstances, needs to be distinct and reflect high quality. By their nature, Gozitans are very hospitable and we should therefore capitalise on this unique characteristic that should give the expected added value to our services.  Together with an unspoilt rural environment and serene landscape, alongside our wealthy cultural heritage, we continue to strengthen tourism as a major industry that further invigorates the economy in Gozo.  Our synergy will be further enhanced through Gozo's Regional Authority, which we aim to establish in the near future, within which structures the necessary dialogue and decision-making will be an ongoing process.

Training and upgrading

We should take every opportunity to upgrade our tourist product and aim at quality service as our mark. We note that the industry itself is not attracting enough Gozitan workers, although we are fully aware that our people can reach higher skill levels with the necessary training. Together, we need to address this shortage as it is to the entrepreneurs' own benefit to have fully-trained fellow Gozitans among their workforce.

We are aware that there is a great demand for particular niches within the important service industry that tourism is. The Gozo Ministry has been working hard towards this end and the excellent results achieved in recent months prove that our joint efforts can secure Gozo as a distinct destination all year round. This is the best way to promote the island's attractions, wrapped and complemented with the best quality service we can offer.

The tourist industry - with all its branches of hospitality and service - has been and always will be a mainstay in this success story.  In all our current and future ventures, we have to continue to invest heavily but diligently in our island's unique qualities as a tourist attraction and destination. We need to work hand-in-hand in order to secure the best economic results the tourism industry can yield. Goodwill and cooperation, change and progress are key factors for the best management of this important pillar of Gozo's economy.

Positive results

The island's connectivity issues was among other topics I addressed. The tunnel, a dream for many Gozitan commuters for years, is now a solid commitment by government, with several technical and geological surveys in hand, including calls for interest at international level. Despite all this preparatory work, which a responsible government is obliged to carry out for safety and security reasons, we are also considering enhancing the existing transport services.

The fact that a record half-a-million people made the crossing during the five-week festive season proves the need to strengthen the service provided by the Gozo Channel ferries. The success achieved over many weekends last year further encourages us to seek more support in order to be adequately equipped to meet the unprecedented demand created by the frequent thematic festivals and other crowd-attracting events throughout the year.


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