The Malta Independent 8 August 2020, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Covid-19 - Malta as a 2020 party hot spot

Thursday, 30 July 2020, 09:25 Last update: about 9 days ago

Malta is seeking to be 2020's festival hot spot according to the BBC.

Any other summer, such news would barely have made headlines, but this summer is a different story.

Mass events in Malta are a major cause of concern to the Maltese, especially since the cluster of positive covid-19 cases emerged from one such weekend-long party.

This newsroom has already written editorials about this topic, and about how people attending such parties will not respect social distancing guidelines. Such hope, for Malta to be a festival hotspot is reckless.

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But Malta hosting parties in the first place doesn't seem to have been enough, and now Malta has made international headlines for such events.

This is irresponsible promotion of Malta at a time when medical personnel and representatives, as well as the employers' association and others are saying that such mass events should be stopped. There is a possibility that doctors will take industrial action if mass events are not cancelled.

At a time when some other European countries are clamping down due to their virus numbers, Malta seems to have its head in the clouds.

Another interesting point must be made. People flying into Malta don't have any mandatory swab tests being taken. Yet, boats filled with migrants are being automatically quarantined for 14 days and tested. While this is definitely the right thing to do, it does show a bit of an unbalance between the way some are treated when compared to others. It could be an idea for tourists to be swab tested upon landing, at least ensuring that at that point in time, they would not have the virus.

Regardless however, hosting parties is not a good idea.

Former Prime Minister Alfred Sant has now joined calls to stop such gatherings, highlighting that, among other things, it could give a bad name to Malta's tourism industry and the hotels here.

The country needs to look at the medium and long-term as well, not just the short-term.

Does Malta really want a tourism industry comparable with that of Ibiza? Does it really want to be known as a party destination?

Malta has other things to offer, including many heritage sites, art and culture. Options that many party destinations do not offer. Yet if Malta gets a reputation as a party destination, it would be hard to recuperate from that.

Party destinations bring with them their own issues, including more drunk people in the evening to deal with and other such nuisances.

Malta has a number of high standard hotels, where people pay for quality accommodation. A party destination does not make a quality destination.

Similarly to how Malta's landscape has changed through the hotchpotch construction that has taken place over the past years, leading to the uglification of certain areas, such a reputation will further impact the type of tourists that come to the island.

There was a time where people were calling for a focus on attracting quality tourists rather than focusing on quantity, what happened to that idea?

Yes the tourism industry is impacted, but mass parties pose a health risk right now, and could kill off the aforementioned goal. Some more responsible party organisers have already begun cancelling events due to Coronavirus fears.

 


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