The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

Institute of Hospitality returns to the Mediterranean...

Julian Zarb Sunday, 19 September 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

...as a Regional Group rather than a parochial group

After a number of years since the Hotel and Catering International Management Association (HCIMA) had closed its Malta Group and, indeed, the Cypriot Group was also inactive, the Institute of Hospitality (IOH) (the new title for this professional association) was again activated, this time as a Mediterranean Regional Group. The IOH Mediterranean Group will be registered in the Maltese Islands but its interests and objectives will cover the region not just one singular country. The main reason for this change in the setting up of IOH Groups was the subject of much discussion and consideration between IOH UK and members in Malta, Cyprus and across the Mediterranean region and it is hoped that this will bring more synergy and inter-culture, knowledge-sharing and professionalism to the tourism and hotel activity. In this period, following the spread of Covid and the shutdowns there have been a number of issues that have hit this activity including:

  1.  A lack of trained, dedicated and committed career seekers for tourism and hotel and catering positions;
  2. A realization that there was a fragmentation between all sectors of tourism, hotels and travel;
  3. A need to consider added value for visitors through the management of tourism in terms of enhancing the diversity of the experience; and
  4. Finally, we need to learn from each other, use the integrated approach for tourism planning instead of replicating short-term strategies and policies for each destination.

The IOH Mediterranean Group will look towards implementing and managing these issues. There are already a number of projects focusing on regenerating tourism by using the integrated approach. This is being considered a pilot project that could be replicated in other regions across the globe and will make tourism more approachable for all the key stakeholders - the local authorities, the businesses and the local communities. It will focus on doing rather than just studying tourism, it will ensure that terms like sustainability and responsibility are not just used frivolously by politicians and businesses as a form of PR that will gain these groups popularity but they must work for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Take the Maltese Islands as a case study - we, as many others across the globe - are experiencing a totally incompetent attitude to managing tourism here. Starting with the decision of the authorities to reopen tourism without considering the consequences that have occurred in the midst of this global pandemic; also the way hotels and catering outlets have cut corners in providing their services and finally that perennial issue - finding the committed and professional career person for employment in the tourism, travel and hotel and catering sectors instead of simply filling these gaps with jobs and looking at employment rather than careers.

We need to reconsider our tourism strategies in the light of these issues now before we cause irreparable damage to the socio-cultural activity that can have such advantages for the host and the visitor in terms of quality, sustainability and responsibility.

 

Recommendations for managing tourism

From today I will be mentioning the basic recommendations for managing tourism. The important issue here is that we have a government, authorities and businesses that listen and think globally and act locally. I will not be feeding any ideas to these groups but I will hint at the areas that need managing:

Tourism is a profession and a career not simply a job

We need to manage tourism through commitment, trust and synergy

We should avoid the mistakes (we are still making) that could lead to unsustainability and irresponsibility

We should target visitors who want to be at a destination not the masses that happen to be here based on price and availability

It is time to take stock of our resources and manage them well together.


If you would like to know more about the IOH Med Group and join this professional association please do write to me at [email protected] for further information.

 

Dr Julian Zarb is a researcher, local tourism planning consultant and a visiting senior lecturer at the University of Malta. He has also been appointed as an expert for the High Streets Task Force in the UK. His main area of research is community-based tourism and local tourism planning using the integrated approach

 

 


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