Tourism in contemporary state’s economy plays a significant source for generating revenue for foreign exchange. Most countries who have invested immensely in their tourism development have made it their economy mainstay. “The travel and tourism competes with the oil and motor industries as one of the largest industries in the world”. (Research and Market, 2003).
Maltese is a small island country. The economy of the country is sustained by its tourist industry. Thus, tourism is a significant resource generating machinery for the Maltese Islands’ economy. According to Ellul (2005), today tourism represents around 24% of the island’s total export of goods and services. Tourism to the Maltese Islands has developed since 1959.Thia development has increased tourist arrival to the islands from 12,583 in 1959 to 1,111,161 in 1997. Gross income from tourism in 1997 has been estimated at US $675 million.
Though the tourism in Maltese Islands has developed and grown along the mass tourism form, but how sustainable would this growth continue and what are those hindrances to a sustainable tourism development in Maltese. This write up seek to highlight these hindrances and give way forwards for overcoming them.
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN MALTESE ISLANDS
Sustainable development of tourism would encompass the social, economic and environmental dimensions. Thus, the development would see that tourism is consolidated with a strong social, economic and environmental build- up. The Ministry of tourism alongside with the National Tourism Organization Malta (NTOM) formalized a study on how to improve the development of a sustainable tourism in Maltese Islands. Beginning from 1997, the Carrying Capacity Assessment (CCA) was adopted in projecting the direction as to how the market for tourism should be tackled and improved upon in the next ten years. Thus, “A CCA Study Group was set up between 1997 and 1999 with the objective of identifying the parameters of the study as well as collecting and analyzing the relevant data” (Pap-thecoastcentre.org, 2005).
The need for sustainable development of tourism in Maltese Islands needs to be concentrated and planned along the sustainable development principles. According to Ellul (2005), these principles include the continuous development of tourist areas taking account of the capacity of the area to absorb the increase in activity results in negative impacts on the social fabric pressures on the infrastructure and a reduction in the quality of the environment of the area and the tourist experience. “The Authority will be carrying out a domestic, motivating, directional, co-coordinating and regulatory role. It will also have the function of promoting Malta as a tourism destination. This will allow Malta’s national tourism institution to integrate the quality of the Islands’ tourism product to promotion, and develop a sustainable brand image.”(Tcin.com, 2005)
HINDRANCES TO A SUSTAINABLE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN MALTESE ISLAND
Identified hindrances preventing sustainable tourism development in Maltese islands include:
Maltese Island has a limited land resources, due to the size of the country, and the fact that it is surrounded by water; being an island. This tend to limit the level of extension in the tourism industry in the country;
The dependence of the Maltese economy on foreign earnings from tourism, this has limited the financial resources available to expand and develop the country’s tourism. As there is no other main supporting source for generating fund in developing the industry;
The Islands size makes the numbers of visitors to the tourist centers be saturated; sometimes affecting the satisfaction level of the visitors;
There is excessive supply of hotel-type bed stock, low quality service, low occupancy rates and low prices;
Society’s tolerance levels; intolerance which sometimes results in breakdown in proper management of the tourist centers.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A SUSTAINABLE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN MALTESE ISLANDS
The highlighted hindrances to Maltese Islands’ sustainable tourism development can be managed and overcome when the following suggested recommendations are put in place:
Alongside the assistance from International organization, like the IMF, World Bank, the government of Maltese Islands can embark on projects aimed at land reclamation. Here, land can be reclaimed and generated from bank of shallow watered areas through sand filling. Such would increase the capacity of land available for tourist expansion in Maltese Islands.
Also, diversification of the country’s economy where other revenue generating avenues are explored and created this would go a long way in lessening the Maltese Island dependence on revenue from its tourism. This will also create surplus fund to develop the existing tourist centers.
Governmental agencies should be set to control the standards of operations of the auxiliary organizations to the tourisms. These include hotel services, transport services etc. If this is done, it would increase the level of customer satisfaction, quality services and better occupancy rates and prices. Hence, this will lead to a healthy development of the Maltese Islands tourism.
The restructuring of the Maltese tourist industry in order to efficiently utilize the limited available resources is required. This should be done through proper resource allocation. This will bring about less wastage, reduced costs, higher viability and profitability, thereby increasing competition which will lead to increase in foreign exchange earnings.
Ellul, Tony (2005), “General Background to Tourism Development and Planning Concerns” http://www.geog.plym.ac.uk/malta/tourism/.htm. (31st December,2005)
Foundation for International Studies (2004), “ Sustainable Tourism” seminar held in University of Malta, 23rd June. http://www.um.edu.mt/intoff//sustainable_tourism.html. (31st December, 2005)
Pap-The Coast Center.Org (2005), “Carrying capacity Assessment for Tourism in the Maltese Islands Development Policies 2000-2002” http://www.pap-thecoastcentre.org/CCA%20executive%20summary%20malta.doc (31st December, 2005)
Research and Markets (2003), “Travel and Tourism Market- market review 2003” key publications ltd. (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reportinfo.asp?report_id=36348) (30th April, 2005)
Tcin.com (1999), “A New Era for Maltese tourism” http://www.tcin.com/mbo.nsf/updates/A+new+era+for+maltese+tourism (31st December, 2005)