The Malta Independent 16 April 2024, Tuesday
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Providing the right experience for our catering services

Julian Zarb Sunday, 12 March 2023, 06:44 Last update: about 2 years ago

In my last article, I wrote about the issues that are making these islands unattractive and disappointing the quality visitor who would really like to be here. Instead we are attracting a visitor of dubious character and value, we cannot expect tourism to improve or continue here unless we do something about this total lack of managment of tourism on these islands. We most definitly need a change in the governance and strategies for tourism.

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This week I will be discussing the way in which our restaurants, coffee shops and similar eateries are losing their sense of hospitality, service and quality. I still remember a time, many many moons ago when we had resturants that had a good reputation among local and foreign clientele. Visitors would make a point of revisiting the islands again and again and looked forward to the experience of a wonderful bill of fare at these restaurants. The patron became their friend, the chef was their hero and the place itself was a comfortable and pleasant place to be in. Today there are numerous so-called places to eat, all displaying the same bill of fare, all serving a low quality dish (sometimes put together without that “finesse” of the professional caterer). The main reason here is that over the past decade we have employed numerous persons in these outlets who have no idea about basic cookery, service and client communication – we have a pool of waiters and cooks who care little about finesse because they are there for the job not the career.

Last week , after an absence of three years, the Malta Chefs Society held the 2023 edition of the Salon Culinaire. As a person who was, and still is, close to this society I am always impressed by the high standards of the participants, so why are clients not experiencing these standards when they dine in our outlets? Why is the food tasteless, presented like some poor canteen or school meal and highly overpriced? It is almost as if we have some suicide pact with our clients and we want them to be disappointed (unless the client is totally uncaring of quality and is happy to eat a poor meal, that is) and never return to our outlet.

I believe we need to review the standards and requirements for managing our catering outlets and revise the legislation for granting a licence to these units. They have become shoddy, irresponsible and downright arrogant with their client. Another reason why these islands are losing out on the real visitor today. Let us all be responsible, let us make our voices heard if we are not happy with our restaurants, this will be a start at least, if nothing is done, then step two would be to vote with your feet and keep clear of these dingy places.

Just three facts in this short article that I hope will continue to encourage more people to write in and assist in the compilation of the Guidelines to Stewardship by Q3 of 2023. Thank you to all those who have already shown their support from as far as the UK, Switzerland and Germany (incidentally three of our key source markets). If we persist in ignoring these facts then, as I have said, tourism here will be an activity that may just attract sordid and nasty characters instead of the visitor who wants to be here – let us keep persisting.

This year I will be completing the Guidelines for Stewardship with the help of a number of individuals and NGOs who 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 – 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 can 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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