The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Tourism - Looking ahead

Tuesday, 27 July 2021, 08:09 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Gozo Tourism Association told The Malta Independent that the domestic tourism market can never fully compensate for the lack of foreign tourists.

Malta’s tourism market took another hit this summer, when the government had to change the travel restrictions when the number of daily Covid-19 cases began to spike. Now, only people in possession of a recognised vaccination certificate can enter the country without having to go into a mandatory quarantine.

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The impact on the Gozo tourism market however, is mitigated slightly as Maltese are travelling to Gozo for weekends, rather than travelling abroad. While travelling abroad has its risks, such as the possibility of Covid regulations changing, or the risk of being stuck in a mandatory quarantine abroad, heading to Gozo does not carry the same risks.

But, while Maltese would spend a weekend in Gozo, foreign tourists would spend longer, and the GTA is absolutely right when saying that Maltese heading to Gozo does not compensate for the lack of foreign tourists.

While one looks forward to the return to normality, however close or far that may be, another question comes to mind. Should we revert to the kind of tourism we had in the past, or go for something new?

Perhaps the discussion we should be having in the country is whether we should aim, long-term, for quantity tourism or change lane and target quality tourists over quantity instead?

There was talk years ago of focusing on attracting quality tourists, people who would spend more while here, rather than aiming for quantity.

This would bring about certain benefits. For one, Malta is overpopulated, both in terms of traffic, but also in terms of people. Going for quantity rather than quality tourists will result in more noise, more litter and overcrowding. Going for quality rather than quantity means that the overcrowding would be lessened, that the tourists we attract would spend more while here, rather than just going for the cheapest options.

This, of course, would not be without its own issues however, such as fewer people staying in hotels.

But at the end of the day, this is a discussion we should be having in Malta, and now is the perfect time.

We have the opportunity to work on rebranding ourselves should we want to, and then better target our advertising should that be the direction the country opts to take.

We need to decide whether we want tourists coming to Malta mainly to party, or tourists coming to Malta mainly for food and culture. This affects our advertising policy abroad, and also how tourism sector operators locally target their products. We do not know what long-term impact this pandemic is going to have, and that is something that must also be taken into consideration.

Malta has a lot to offer as a country. We are full of history, culture, and our culinary experience has made leaps and bounds forward over the past few years.

Looking ahead, we have what we need to make a shift for quality over quantity should we wish to go down that road.

 

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