The Malta Independent 14 July 2020, Tuesday

Through virtual reality, the general public can now visit underwater cultural heritage sites

Giulia Magri Tuesday, 30 June 2020, 17:22 Last update: about 13 days ago

The general public can now access 10 underwater archaeological sites in the comfort of their own homes.

'The Virtual Museum- Underwater Malta' website is an online museum which ranges from old archaeological findings to sunken aircrafts and submarines.

Launching the underwater museum at Fort St Elmo, Professor Tim Gambin from the University of Malta explained that through means of virtual reality, one can be able to experience the underwater world, which is usually explored only by divers. He said that the concept of the museum highlights the importance of Malta's heritage found underwater.

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"What we see today is just the tip of the iceberg, as there was a lot of work behind this project which consisted of research, using different media and technology to bring the final product we have now," Gambin said.

The project features 10 sites, where each site is given a detailed description and videos which show the sites in great detail. The project is in collaboration with the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), the University of Malta and Heritage Malta, with an investment of €100,000 over three years.

The project appeals not simply to divers or history enthusiasts, but hopefully will catch the attention of the general public who wish to learn more about Malta's underwater national heritage.

Over 100,000 tourists visited Malta specifically for diving activities last year

MTA CEO Gavin Gulia said that such a museum will enrich the niche diving sector in Malta. He explained that in 2019 there were over 100,000 tourists who visited Malta specifically to take part in diving activities. He said that he hopes the website will help such tourists to plan their trip in advance and also entice more people to come to Malta to dive.

"Such a project will support our cultural heritage. This is a first, and such a project will continue to inform the general public about our surroundings and will also help the diving sector," explained Gulia. He said that the project will bring accessibility to such sites for everyone.

"Malta is safe and in the past few months we worked hard to provide better products for our tourists"

A day before the opening of the international airport, Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli stressed that Malta is a safe country and that in the past few months stakeholders have worked twice as hard to provide better products for when tourists arrive in Malta. "We must also be competitive in what we offer to tourists and provide products which are vibrant and different."

She recounted how Malta was one of the first countries to open their historical sites virtually, to provide tourists an idea of what they will see once they visit the island. 

 

Photos: Alenka Falzon


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