By Tony Zahra, President of Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA)

Over the past decades since the inception of tourism in Malta the narrative was based on growth. And growth we managed to achieve. Indeed, after two years of pandemic we have managed to recover, and we are set on seeing a record number of tourists for 2023 of course subject to no unforeseen circumstances coming into play.

And yes, it’s good to celebrate the success achieved in the tourism sector setting Malta as a leader in Mediterranean tourism sector but it’s also good to learn from what we could have done better as we look ahead – to be future proof.

And to become future proof we believe that now it’s time to review our country’s strategy. A strategy which beyond rhetoric reflects the principles of sustainability. Now, the word sustainability is probably one of the most used and abused words in the vocabulary – the dictionary definition is “sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of the current generations without compromising the needs of future generations while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care, and social well-being.

Given the size of our country we must now concentrate on doing things better not bigger!! We must have a better tourism product and a better hospitality service; Better infrastructure; Better governance; Better education and access to culture for all; Better environment and cleaner surroundings; Better management of our population and working force; Making Malta a Better experience for all – for those who live in it and for those who visit it.

One can always find someone who can do it cheaper, but it gets much more difficult when one does it better. So, we need better and more clever investment both by the public sector and the private sector, but equally important better and more clever management on all fronts.

The energy power cuts of recent days and the general cleanliness and upkeep leaves much to be desired. The never-ending Infrastructure works, and lack of transport management contribute to an image of a badly managed destination. It seems as if there is no effort to plan works, leading to gross inconveniences for both those living in, and those visiting our islands. We do understand that works need to be carried out but works must be managed much better than they are today, by choosing the right period, timeframes, contractors and ensuring that they don’t conflict with other works even when they are being carried out by other public agencies or private companies.

Indeed, the citizen and the tourist don’t really care about whose fault it is that they are experiencing a shabby and disorganized Malta – most often for the tourist it will become the perception of what Malta is all about and for those living in Malta they will blame Government. And that’s why our appeal to Government is that we need to aim for BETTER on all fronts.

To be future proof we need to get our energy supply management plan right. In the past days we have experienced what some have been warning about in the past decades – climate change. It’s now getting to us, and we just cannot keep pretending that it’s an extraordinary event. This will be the norm – we need action, and we cannot afford to get stuck in rhetoric and reports. Indeed, those entrepreneurs who lost business, suffered from damaged equipment, and lost food stock worth thousands of euros will not be comforted just by telling them that they are right. Planning and action must be done better and soon. Now is the time to walk the talk.

Let’s be future proof, let’s aim to do things better. We can lobby, we can influence our members but ultimately it is Government who is tasked by the people with setting and driving a vision for Malta. This will take a lot of effort and tough decisions but there aren’t many options if we still believe that we can be a leading modern EU country in the Mediterranean. From our end as MHRA – representatives of the hotel and restaurant businesses – we will be there to support any efforts in doing things better.

Image Credit – Edinson Acevedo

About the Mediterranean Observer

The Mediterranean Observer is a news portal dedicated to travel tourism, and hospitality in the Mediterranean region. This portal is managed by the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation, based in the Mediterranean country of Malta.