The Malta Independent 29 February 2024, Thursday
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TMID Editorial: A better balance in favour of quality of life must be struck

Friday, 10 November 2023, 12:51 Last update: about 5 months ago

Quality of life has been one of the last buzzwords thrown about by the country’s political class, but perhaps unlike other buzzwords it also happens to be the one people relate to the most.

Earlier this week the NGO Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar organised a conference which brought together local councillors from three particularly touristic localities: St Julian’s, Sliema, and Marsascala.

During the event, all the councillors expressed concerns at a variety of issues related to the negative impact on the quality of life of the residents living in these localities that the increase in the country’s population and peak touristic seasons have.

Both Sliema mayor John Pillow and Marsascala minority leader John Baptist Camilleri highlighted problems with restaurants taking up public pavements with tables and chairs, leaving an eyesore and – more so – forcing people to have to weave through them or walk in the roads to avoid them.

St Julian’s mayor Guido Dalli meanwhile highlighted the waste issue which was at the centre of significant focus over the course of last summer.

“I fear that another summer will come, and this problem will return”, said mayor Dalli, “There is a sense that the issue is going to be evaded now that winter is approaching, and summer has passed”. He also said that it is “imminent” for summer to come and for everyone to “go back to square one” when the time comes.

Some problems are not strictly related to the tourism industry: the growth in the country’s population has contributed as well, but the fact that certain issues seem to intensify during the summer months – peak tourism season – points towards the suggestion that the tourism industry does have a significant impact in this sense.

Solutions are required – some more difficult than others.  When it comes to restaurants and the take up of public pavements and promenades, the solution is quite clear – what belongs to the public must be given back to the public.

It is hardly right that anyone wishing to go for a walk must instead be faced with an obstacle course of tables and chairs.  It’s a clear example of how business interests have been allowed to trample on the interests of the residents who live in the area.

When it comes to waste, Dalli suggested that tourists should be handed waste schedules upon their arrival at the airport, but a more practical solution when it comes to enforcement should be that those running short lets should be held responsible and fined accordingly for waste which is left outside by those staying there.

The core of this of course is enforcement which, like anything else in Malta, remains sorely lacking.

The fact is that any issue related to peak tourist season in Malta is only set to intensify: the government had repeatedly said that the country must move towards a model of attracting quality not quantity in terms of tourists – but in the same breath the Tourism Ministry has been at the forefront of boasting of when tourist arrival records are broken.

The fact is that Malta’s infrastructure needs to be improved in order to sustain the peak seasons – something which will stand to benefit both the tourists and the residents who live in touristic areas.

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