The Malta Independent 7 June 2023, Wednesday
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Providing a safe and serene destination for visitors

Julian Zarb Sunday, 26 March 2023, 08:28 Last update: about 3 months ago

The visitor who wants to be here will look for serenity, safety and will not go near a country plagued with political and social strife.

In my last article, I wrote about the lack of hospitality, sertvice and professionalism in the eateries around the Maltese islands.  There is a lack of any knowledge, there is little communication between guest and client and certainly there is no idea of the basic cookery and service – these units employ persons who just want a job not a career, they are simply waiters and cooks!

This week I will be discussing the importance of why a destination that needs to attract visitors of any quality must ensure that it is not only secure and peaceful but also that it has no political issues that interfere with the attractiveness, traditions and character of that destination.  The Maltese Islands are being promoted in the national and local news for the wrong reasons – it is not about the innovative environmental management nor is it about the heritage and culture that has become a key aspect of the civic responsibility on these islands nor yet is it about the events that keep the traditions alive.

The islands have been in the news over the last week concerning the mismanagement of a project to rehabilitate the old General Hospital that was closed over twenty years ago.  These incidents may nor affect the visitor directly but they certainly reduce the confidence the real tourist, the one who wants to be a destination, may have of this country.  It may also affect the sense of civic pride the local community may have and the confidence that they have in those governing the country.  In a few words these incidents certainly destroy all that could develop any destination into a quality tourism attraction. You all need to sit quietly and ask three questions to yourselves about YOUR conceot of a quality destination:


1.                  Would YOU visit a destination that is showing signs of bad governance or, worse, mismanagement?

2.                 Would you feel comfortable knowing that your hosts are more concerned about politics than hospitality and service?

3.                 Finally, would you feel that you can be guaranteed any experiential or financial value `at a destination that is in the grip of political or civil strife?


I know what my replies would be and given the choices we all have as travellers I am certain I will find a far better destination where the host community is hospitable, the service is there and the civic pride can add to my value experience that will add to my value for money. 

As I have said many times, visitors to a destination today are not just looking for price and availability but they are really interested in that value experience.  These islands need to take a decision now – do you want to offer visitors real hospitality, service and professionalism or will you continue to allow bad  governance and mismanagement to destroy the character, culture and attractiveness of the islands? 

Still more 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 Stewardships 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 – 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 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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