Malta’s tourism industry - Should we go for quantity or quality?
The first question that comes to mind is why would a quality tourist want to come to Malta? Roads are second rate and clogged, Malta is a developer’s paradise with town and village planning taking a back seat to property cubes and high-rise pimples, the environment is clearly not a priority, pollution of all sorts is the norm and sometimes one get the impression that there is a general lethargic sense of abandonment. Unless these issues are addressed, speaking about quality with respect to this niche sector is a non-starter. But let us stretch our imagination and believe that these issues do not exist.
Within the quality tier there are different strata. Taking the air travel analogy, one can identify 4 broad categories of travelers: those who own their own jet and limo, those who don’t afford their own plane but rent a jet, those who travel first or business class and budget passengers. Some people may define a quality passenger as being the first two; other may extend this definition to everyone except the budget traveler. It is important that what constitutes quality tourism is clearly defined as this will have an impact on how the Malta product is shaped, together with the economic projections and related KPIs.
Quality tourists expects that, in exchange for paying considerably more than a normal tourist, they get a service and a treatment that far exceeds what is provided to budget, mass market tourists. According to experts who specialise in this area, a quality tourist expects a holiday that focuses on privacy, time, customization and uniqueness.
Visitors do not want to be thrown in with the crowd. They expect to expect their own private guides with the better off expecting venues and places to be opened to them exclusively. They do not want to have to look over someone’s shoulder to admire a work of art or get part of someone’s limb in a photo.
Persons paying top money expect that they fast track through all the mundane checks and processes. At the same time they do not expect to be rushed when they are enjoying themselves. If they want to visit Gozo they expect to find a helipad or private yacht (or air strip) that takes them across. Once they get to their destination they expect to find a vehicle that whisks them away to their destination where they could spend the day at their leisure.
Quality tourists expect their holiday to be designed specifically around their needs and aspirations. If a client is into discovering the authenticity of Malta than the travel expert’s job to have the knowledge, skill and a database of reliable and highly rated providers that can cater for their requirements. The travel expert may need to have access to areas that are normally not available to the general public in order to truly make a holiday unique.
Even in a geographically small and overpopulated country such as Malta quality can technically exist and could technically be developed into an industry that would have an impact on GPD. Private enterprise on its own will not be able to create the environment. Government must provide the framework to support private enterprise in their endeavor to provide a first class service and must be willing to address those shortcomings that only it can rectify.
If we took the attitude that each quality tourist was the Queen visiting Malta we would be on the right track.