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Repairing Malta and Tourism

Dr. Julian Zarb
Written by Julian Zarb

Making our Malta neighborhoods more friendly, caring, hospitable, and courteous.
Be Responsible is the plea by a Malta tourism activist.

In Malta, we are all about bringing people together, creating and fostering relationships through the excitement of travel and adventure.  This goal is endorsed by the Malta Tourism Authority and seems to align with the goal outlined in a critical evaluation by Dr. Julian Zarb.

Dr. Julian Zarb was the director of Malta Tourism from 2010-2014 and has been known as an outspoken Lecturer at the ITTC (University of Malta) in International Tourism Development and CBT. He contributed this article to eTurboNews outlining some worries in this tourism paradise, Malta.

In my last article, I wrote about the need to show that we care for our environment and the importance of greening our urban and rural spaces on our beautiful island, Malta.

“Being Responsible.”

Today I must share with you another issue I have come across this week – making our neighborhoods more friendly, caring, hospitable, and courteous.  

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Presently, our neighborhoods are stripped of all these qualities – people seem locked away in their houses. I cannot call them homes because they probably lack that warmth and care of a home and family.

If you happen to see a neighbor outside, they rush past you, head lowered with a sullen face; try and wish them a good day, and the look tells you everything:

Push off before I do you in!

It is so important to have this sense of community spirit in our neighborhood because this will not only add value to our own quality of life but will be so welcoming to the visitor sharing in our lives for a time – that is what any quality visitor looks for.

Today’s tourists are really not interested in this quality of life; most of them are as uncouth, ill-mannered, and sullen as the locals or host community.  

How can we even dream of quality tourism with this attitude?

You know we do not even care about our urban spaces.

Over the past ten years, I have seen my own locality – Iklin – go from a friendly neighborhood to one that is filled with envy, hatred, and uncouth behavior.  

The reckless development of once traditional homes built just thirty years ago in local limestone is being replaced with ugly, abstract apartments without any character, let alone the qualities of a home!

With reference to my discourse the last weeks on community spirit and awareness that comparisons are odious, I must share this observation with you, and I look forward to some valid and pertinent comments.

Local history has shown that, at least since 1958, politics has driven a rift between our communities. We are aware of a divide and rule concept that creates situations of communal hatred, envy, and jealousy.

Why this is allowed on an island of just 500,000 people is beyond my comprehension, and indeed I think it is the product of evil and egocentric behavior on the part of politicians in government at the time this is evident.

It is evident, very evident, today, unfortunately.

People no longer address each other with a smile, a greeting, and a welcome word. Even the members of the public service and sector, including the police, are sour-faced and expound some form of displeasure, arrogance, and belligerence.

Obviously, this is not a general feeling, and I know there are still genuine people who are kind, courteous, and prudent, and who go out of their way to greet, help, and welcome you.

Perhaps this section of society can be the beacon or candle under the bushel to spread that kindness, courtesy, and prudence for the good of these islands and the spread of a sincere community spirit.

I believe truth and real hospitality will always prevail over evil, envy, hatred, and jealousy.

All it takes is a few seconds. It costs nothing to start reversing this situation. It costs nothing to wish everyone a good day as you leave your home; drive with courtesy and prudence; be polite to others, and act with courtesy. 

 Then if you would like to send me your results, we can see how small drops of good nature can change our neighborhoods and communities.  I will wait to receive from you.

Recommendations and Summary:

1.       Let us continue to take responsibility through a national awareness steered by a group of NGOs focused on the environment and communities.  
I am proposing that the two NGOs I chair and other NGOs come together to spearhead this campaign. 

We need to take the lead and not depend on the government and politicians.

2.      We should identify areas where we can plant trees in urban sites (roadsides, parks, and places for relaxation or rural localities) that need to be enhanced with trees)

3.      Recognize 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 contact me.

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.

About the author

Julian Zarb

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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