The Malta Independent 4 October 2022, Tuesday
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Being responsible: Are we heading for tourism oblivion

Sunday, 7 August 2022, 06:53 Last update: about 3 months ago

Julian Zarb

In my last article, I wrote about  the need to be responsible about our neighbourhoods ands our environment if we are serious about offering an attractive destination and , eventually, a quality destination (though i veryu much doubt this will happen any time soon given the total lack of management knowledge , competency and care shown by the stakeholders. Now I need to be the bearer of bad tidings.  We are, today risking the demise of our tourist industry here because of the over development, unethical behaviour, parochial sense of achievement and downright attitiude to the backscratching tendency! I can see no future for these islands if we go on with these habits; already I have been reading about people lookimng elsewhere for holidays, for booking their clients, for alternative destinations.  Can you blame them?

It is so important that we open our eyes to the state of these islands – the chaotic driving, the lack of road courtesy and prudence, the total disrespect to public land by “gypsy style” campers, the deafness of the authorities to common sense and correct behaviour...need I continue? Maybe a few more examples – the lack of efferctive action to the rules and laws of the roadn by the public authorities; the erratic and hideous building resulting in a total deformation of the traditional landscape....with this continued behaviour we are spiralling down into an abyss of an unattractive , desolate island where the only tourist will be the tacky, cheap and common person who may visit for three unattractive reasons – sex, drugs and debauchery.

It is pathetic to even think this, but I did warn you that I was the bringer of such bad tidings – and as always I am just the messenger , so do not blame me or shoot me when the tourism industry goes pear shaped.  Can we reverse the situation?

That is a very good question – the answer can only come if we are committed, dedicated and determined that together we will fight the evils of over and unsustainable development, if we participate in the management of tourism, if we start with our localities and spruce these up and more than anything if we keep up the fight against incompetence and bad management of tourism by the authorities.  Tourism investment comes from our taxes, we are key stakeholders – not the government, not the politician, but you and I – we are the key stakeholder. Open your eyes and mouths to the way in which we are treating this destination. 

You need to remember that tourism belongs to everyone, remember those stickers some years ago with the words:  Mit-Turizmu Jiekol Kulhadd (from tourism everyone eats) and that should stop you from being passive about taking action.

I believe we can reverse the present situation if we work together for the national interest instead of for the interests of a few uncouth persons.

Make an effort now , my offer to work with you, train you and develop a sustainable, well managed tourism activity still stands if you are serious about a better quality of life for all the islands.

 

Recommendations and summary

1.       Let us continue to take responsibility through a national awareness steered by a group of NGOs focussed on the environment and communities.  I am proposing here that the two NGOs I chair together with other NGOs come together to spearhead this campaign.  We need to take the lead and not depend on government and politicians.

2.      We should identify areas where we can regenerate local tourism for the quality visitor.

3.      Recognize our duty as communities to enhance our environment and care for the precious trees that will add value to our moral, ethical and physical quality of life.

4.      Those NGOs and persons (including local councils) interested in  working with me on this project should email me on [email protected] or call me on 99167805.

5.      Let us get going  - let us really build better and reverse the horrendous state of this island.

I sometimes wonder – am I writing for the converted?  Are there any other persons who agree or disagree with me? I frequently meet people who read these articles – but these articles are not just there to be read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, they are there to sow the seeds of change from apathy to commitment – to make tourism an activity we can be proud of.  Let me know what you think and how you feel about tourism.

 

Dr Julian Zarb is a researcher, local tourism planning consultant and an Academic 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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