We need to Master New Opportunities To Succeed Responsibly.
Every story has its beginning. Ours started in 1958. It was a year of turbulence and uncertainty for British Colony Malta. As the winds of change started to blow and the ordinarily placid Maltese life got disturbed some reassured themselves that by assuming continuity Malta would prevail as a military base. At the time, many believed that tomorrow would be more of the same as yesterday.
But ever since our inception, we saw things differently. The founders had a vision which became our mission. A mission which was forward-looking – very much aware that they were giving life to something big, far more than they could ever imagine. From humble foundations they started building a new order called “Maltese hospitality”. Significantly, from the very first steps in this journey they understood that there is very little we can achieve alone – that very little is possible without unity. This marked the beginning of our story, a new story, a story which continues today, called MHRA, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association.
Over the past 65 years MHRA has been there, accompanying its members and working alongside the authorities, embracing new ways of developing the tourism and hospitality sector by adopting new approaches to solving problems and creating opportunities. MHRA has been there advocating for initiatives that aim to ensure Malta’s continuous sustainable competitiveness, driving new initiatives forward, raising the bar to the next level by outsmarting assumptions.
But probably powerful unprecedented change is what best defines the times that we are living today. As we commemorate European Tourism Day it’s perhaps best to refer to our 65 years of experience as guidance to the future by identifying which are the critical success factors needed to best master new opportunities to succeed responsibly.
In the past new projects were gauged and decided upon according to the number of new jobs being created. In the last few years the situation has changed dramatically. In this context, when a new policy or a new project is being contemplated it’s incumbent upon us to ask, “ 1. Will this project or initiative add to our quality of life ? 2. What will be the project or initiative’s contribution to Malta’s GDP?” If either of these two questions are not positive, then why are we taking this initiative or project. We must understand and see the wider picture and stop being myopic driven by short term gains. This takes strategic thinking and a sustainable vision. This implies working outside one’s comfort zone by embracing innovation and change. Indeed, our 65 years of experience taught us that to exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. New challenges, new opportunities, must be set as our mission to keep moving forward and to keep satisfying the evolving needs of our members, visitors to our islands and Maltese citizens alike.
Secondly, the hospitality industry needs to rethink their workplace environments to make careers in the sector more appealing as the sector grapples with a significant labour shortage. Apart from changing working ethics we must also understand the developments which technology is pursuing as it creates global change and is providing us with powerful tools. For example, AI is already performing human tasks that used to be difficult to achieve with traditional technology. Our role as industry leaders is therefore to inspire the need for the re-engineering of traditional hospitality tasks and skills, by taking into consideration the current challenges related to labour shortages and new developments in technology whilst retaining the hospitality experience expected by the most discerning guest at the crux of any change.
Thirdly, the biggest threats and dangers we face are the ones we don’t see – not because they’re secret or invisible, but because we’re wilfully blind. What makes us prefer ignorance? What are we so afraid of? Why do some people see more than others? Why do we ignore the obvious at our peril? And how can we change? Our 65 years of experience as industry leaders and lobbyists has taught us that failing to see – or admit – the issues and problems in plain sight can ruin and bring down economies and businesses alike in an incredible short period of time.
In this light, we as MHRA pledge to continue to apply what we know best to challenge continuity, and to keep improving hospitality as a critical pillar of our identity. Towards this end we will aim to ensure the wellbeing of our people and that of our surroundings. We pledge that we will never get stuck in continuity. 65 years old today, our story continues, and we celebrate our tomorrow by reaffirming our Mission:Forward.