The Malta Independent 15 June 2024, Saturday
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Living on a knife edge – are we destroying our quality of life today?

Julian Zarb Saturday, 25 May 2024, 05:52 Last update: about 21 days ago

This week the media was full of local news about the revelations and proof of one scandal or another where the Government is concerned.

This situation is leading to a degeneration of the quality of life for most of the community here and turning into a sour existence. Social life is no longer enjoyed by meeting others, but replaced by moaning and grumbling on social media; the traditional greeting each morning – Bonġu or Bonswa – has become extinct. Neighbours live in their own glass bubbles and ignore those around them.

Here, I see the first stages that will destroy our quality of life today. Our localities are fast turning into dormant places without that spark of “Joie de Vivre”. If that quality of life is destroyed it will most certainly destroy the hospitality and service towards our visitors. Politics is taking a grip on our lives, it is dividing communities again, this is the nineteen eighties all over again. The progress that was made from 1987 to 2013 is slowly fading.

If we are to avoid another decline in tourism we need to do something about this sad existence; the attitude will begin to show very soon and will drive tourists away. Yes, one can say that this is a busy period now, but it will not be long before those tourists will see through the empty smiles, the false sense of hospitality and service that is not driven by care, but by short-term economic gain, and that the service is inconsistent.

Let us each examine our consciousness and see whether, in fact, we are enjoying a quality of life that allows us to be friendly with each other, or have we perhaps distanced ourselves from each other? This could be the real reason why our tourism activity is based on quantitative results driven by a mechanical process of sham hospitality and service.

Fifty years ago these Islands still had the charm of a Mediterranean paradise that attracted the “sixpenny settlers” and the British Tourist, who were still loyal to the Island where they had been stationed, or where their dad or grandad had been during the Second World War. At times the Islands were seen (through local eyes) as the centre of the Mediterranean, the Islands that had acquired sole ownership of the sun and the sea. In time these Islands faded, as the loyalty by the British died as the previous generations were phased out.

These were replaced by European visitors, and these certainly did not have any loyalty to the Islands – they demanded that their food, beverage and service matched that which they expected back home. Tourism was accepted now not on the basis of hospitality and service, but on the basis of price and availability, certainly a very flimsy strategy to build a strong activity on.

Tourists kept on coming, but this was more because the 2.8 million that arrive today are a drop in the sea against a potential market of over 500 million – the Islands lost the high percentage of return visitors they enjoyed in the sixties and seventies, now tourists could choose from a vast display of destinations. To make it worse, the negative attitude today by the community and the lack of hospitality and service is driving a wedge between the host and the visitor, and soon that wedge will create an obstacle that will turn this tourist destination into just another cheap resort.

But, as usual, I will suggest the six stages that we can adopt to avoid this disaster if we are committed to change :

You have the instruments to choose the best local and national Government who can place these Islands back on track for a quality destination – those tools are called the vote and the voice. Make yourself heard, loud and clear, do not accept mediocrity or bad management as the norm any more.

You are the linchpin for quality tourism when you believe in true hospitality and service, so believe in your commitment, trust and synergy in spreading those real qualities between your friends, family and neighbours.

Start living again, meet friends regularly, socialize in person not through some screen on a “smart phone”, shake hands, chat, ask after each other and show you really care about the answer.

You are the only person that can turn this knife edge, this existence brought about by bad Governance and greed, into a friendly life. Do not expect anyone else to make the first move – it starts with you.

If you still want these Islands to be the paradise we had imagined them to be half as century ago, then we must look back and retrack those factors that made it so. This is the only U-Turn that will achieve anything except political division and community distrust.

Finally, start to act now – read this article, share it with friends and family and spread the word – we can make this work together!

By following these six stages, we can ensure that these Islands are managed professionally, sustainably and with the idea of developing a quality activity that attracts the visitor who wants to be here. Travel and Tourism to these Islands today is about quantitative gains for the greedy and uncouth. We need to put professionalism and hospitality back in the equation.

If we are to avoid another decline in tourism we need to do something about this sad existence; the attitude will begin to show very soon and will drive tourists away.

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