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Business • February 15 2004

Tourism and our daily bread

Do you remember watching the TV spots with the "Hobza Maltija". Or the one with stones forming the words "Welcome to Malta" on the beach and loads of rubbish cascading on them? These two spots form part of an ongoing national tourism awareness campaign that the Malta Tourism Authority has been running for the past four years.
The need for such a campaign stems primarily from the fact that visitors to Malta are not restricted to particular resorts but rather they live amongst and mix with the local community.
This inter-relationship, though positive in the sense that the tourist benefits from a truly unique personal experience (something which international travellers are increasingly seeking), requires that the hosting community be willing and prepared to welcome and accept the visitor as somebody with whom they can share their world. It also requires that the islands’ urban, rural and marine environment, as well as our unique cultural and historical heritage, be maintained to international standards.
The incentive for this "effort" by the local community, apart from an improvement in our own quality of life, are the benefits of tourism to the national economy and therefore an enhancement, whether directly or indirectly, of each individual’s well-being.
Tourism is a major contributor to the Maltese economy. The industry accounts for nearly 24 per cent of Malta’s GNP and directly employs 20,000 people, while another 20,000 owe their employment to a large extent to tourism-generated activities. Gross earnings from tourism in 2002 were Lm246,259 million.
Thus references to the economic benefits of tourism and the role of this industry as a generator of wealth for the whole country permeate the MTA’s tourism awareness campaign. Apart from raising awareness of the importance of tourism, however, the public is also encouraged to co-own and identify itself with this industry. Emphasis is made on the need for an effort by the whole community to ensure that "tourism works for Malta".
Apart from TV, the campaign is also carried on the inside of route buses, print advertising and on radio. Significantly, the MTA has been augmenting its efforts in reaching out to the younger generations, particularly those of secondary school age.
As part of the campaign, bus shelter posters were installed throughout the island during October 2003 and January 2004.
The first poster carried the message Turizmu = Lm 350 miljun + 40,000 impjieg. Fit-Turizmu sehmek kollox. (Tourism = Lm 350 million + 40,000 jobs. Your role in tourism is vital.)
The second poster carried an image of a little girl, with a message on her sweater saying; "Veru kburi b’pajjizek? Mela thammigx!" ("Are you really proud of your country? Then don’t litter!")
The MTA believes that a change in attitude is taking root, and is convinced that a sustained effort will yield its fruit.
As they say, only time will tell…

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