The Malta Independent 9 December 2019, Monday

Safeguarding our authentic brand

Justyne Caruana Sunday, 21 July 2019, 09:47 Last update: about 6 months ago

“When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance” – Lao-Tze, Chinese philosopher

 

This is how the Labour Government is succeeding where past governments have failed. Last Wednesday, my colleague Finance Minister Edward Scicluna announced that The Malta Treasury received €296.5 million worth of bids for the issue of €60 million in Government Stock. This means that there was an over-subscription of 500 per cent for this stock, and now the total allotment is to be increased to €100 million.

To quote Minister Scicluna, this is yet another positive health check for our economy – an economy founded on tourism, trade, industry and financial services, with current and future strategic priorities that will involve life sciences, advanced manufacturing, innovative and creative industries, financial services, international education services, tourism,  transportation and advanced logistics.

 

Labour’s vision

Standing with his feet on the ground, our Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat, together with his formidable and united team, is paving the way to a future that will be the envy of Europe and beyond. Notwithstanding the constant, negative and intentional malicious rumours and attacks beyond our shores, spread by a few, Malta is making headlines across the continent as the fastest-growing economy in the EU block.

This is no coincidence. It is the fruit of a grounded, long-term strategy that involves all sectors and levels of society. It is also the result of Dr Muscat’s vision for a Malta and Gozo that are open to anyone who wants to contribute to the building of a society that is inclusive, innovative, industrious and equitable – irrespective of political and religious beliefs, gender and race. A country that respects, encourages and promotes every single citizen and foreigner who wishes to be a participant in – and contributor to – this vision; a balanced country where no one is left behind and each and every one of us is proud to be Maltese and proud to be a part of a team of winners.

Despite all the harm that seems to be the only motive that can unite an otherwise disintegrated Opposition, this is a democratic country focused on good governance, transparency and, most importantly, the wellbeing of society and the common good.

It all stems from the authenticity in branding the nation that, since 2013, has taken us into a step-by-step and measured methodology that has not veered from the nation’s key identity: hard work, resilience and people’s trust.

 

Authenticity

Talking of authenticity, a frequently asked question comes to mind: why is Gozo special and unique? It is special and unique because it is fast becoming the epitome of the Maltese archipelago’s cultural and natural heritage. The island’s cultural wealth is an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration. It is something inherited from the past and is an important living resource of huge economic, social and environmental importance which must be carefully sustained, identified, promoted, protected and preserved.

It is the aim of my Ministry to add value to this precious resource and I am confident that, with diligent and strategic planning and the support of everyone involved, Gozo’s cultural heritage can contribute to sustainable, smart and inclusive growth on a regional and national level.

Our multi-faceted strategy is to use Gozo’s heritage resources to contribute to sustainable development and management in order to boost the island’s economic sectors.

A strategy that is having a huge impact on Gozo’s economy is the promotion and encouragement of cultural-heritage tourism. Parallel with this strategy is our determination to constantly maintain and upgrade Gozo’s infrastructure and amenities. This is no small feat but, with determination and a clear long-term vision of the future, I am confident that Gozo will be able to handle the influx of tourists and visitors in the years to come without suffering the adverse effects of over exploitation of its natural and social attributes. In fact, to date we have resurfaced and built a considerable number of arterial and secondary roads, have restored and preserved heritage buildings and upgraded and rejuvenated various piazzas and locations.

 

Rejuvenating Gozo

In my short time at the helm of the Ministry, a great deal has been accomplished and more is being planned. We are determined to preserve Gozo’s authentic attributes through all the necessary projects. All the work is being carried out after an intensive public consultation process, with particular attention to the traffic flow that passes through central areas. Ongoing projects include the restoration of the Xewkija Windmill, which is in its final stage, and the regeneration of the Ta’ Gordan Lighthouse. Our aim is to provide another family park that will attract visitors and locals to the area to admire and enjoy the breath-taking views of the island’s west coast and learn about the lighthouse’s history and architectural value.

We are living in a world where social relationships are disintegrating, and places such as Gozo offer visitors the opportunity to socialise, find community identity and enjoy a true and original experience with friendly and ‘real’ people. In Gozo, the tourist is able to find his/her roots and can look for and find – or at least compensate for – their lost identity. The Gozo Ministry is keen to promote the island as an all-year-round destination and is aware that thematic festivals and special events attract tourists from both near and far.

These events are key elements that make an important contribution to the economic development of the island and the eradication of seasonality. We have, in fact, invested heavily in the organisation and promotion of cultural and contemporary events that cater for every type of visitor and complement the established annual feasts organised by our parishes and NGOs throughout the year.

 

Gozo is alive

We focus on cultural exchange and expose Gozo’s unique value on an international and local scale. The enthusiastic input and expertise of our NGOs and local councils help us promote Gozo as a hub for all things cultural and authentic. They are diverse – engaging artisans, artists and tourists themselves as participants and showcasing Gozo’s specific cultural identity through the medium of music and the arts, as well as food, drink, dance, films and more.

Indeed, Gozo’s cultural calendar is chock-a-bloc with events that cover almost every week of the year.

The well-being of our families and the business community can be seen through all these activities which, whilst safeguarding our authentic brand and striking the necessary balance, are continuously making Gozo come alive!

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