The Malta Independent 21 March 2023, Tuesday
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Applying the principles and qualitative management to tourism?

Saturday, 28 January 2023, 09:09 Last update: about 3 months ago

Julian Zarb

In my last article, I wrote about the situation today on the island of Gozo, a destination that should be unique and set aside from Malta, an island that is slowly (or rapidly) being completly destroyed by inept management, destructive and unethical developers and egocentric businesses. An island that for over a hundred years was a quiet and rural retreat for domestic and foreign visitors and which today can be seen as a carbon copy of Malta. I am dismayed at this progression over the past decade. We really do need to apply the principles and qualitative management to tourism on these islands if this destination can even be considered a tourist destination let alone a “quality” destination – at the moment it is just a mess and disgrace and should not even feature in any tourist adverts online or published!


This week I had the misfortune of walking through the drab or dodgy end of Bugibba, I noticed two large hotels completely shut, dingy bars that looked like something out of Dickens, landscaping that was non existent. This is the common appearance across the island of Malta today – street lighting reduced to blackouts in our villages, roadworks that seem to be continuous and to no purpose where the signage and warning signs are not lit up with hazard lighting and the senseless behaviour of drivers and the authorities in managing the situation professionally. Do we really believe that quality tourists are going to be impressed with this utter lack of good management here?

Can we not get our act together and work through integrated groups to include an inter ministry working group, local authority management teams, business and industry committees and participation of the local community to ensure civic responsibility, ownership and a sense of belonging? Building a working structure of these groups and committees and coordinating them will allow the smooth application of sustainable and qualitative tourism for these islands.

On the other hand the total lack of care, laissez faire and unprofessional behaviour of those responsible for governance and management of tourism on these islands will definitely lead to an obliteration of the islands as a tourist destination (except for those tourists who are content with squalor and low value services and experiences). I have offered, time and again, to assist in building this new and more practical style of tourism management yet I come up against the brick walls of stubborness and complacency. The guidelines to stewardship that should be completed later this year (possibly Q3 2023) will be a start to rethinking the tourism activity and getting out of this sad situation, but, as the saying goes, you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink – it depends on goodwill and appreciation from everyone.

This year I will be completing the Guidelines for Stewardships with the help of a number of individuals and NGOs that have already approached me and I hope to present this to you, as the community, to our politicians and to our authorities. We may, yet, be able to save these islands from total oblivion as a sustainable and quality tourist destination – that is my New Year’s resolution. Will YOU join me?


Recommendations and Summary:


1.       Let us build community spirit by developing the guidelines for Stewardship together; I invite all those interested to contact me.

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

3.      Recognise 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 9916 7805.

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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