Sustainable Pathways for the Tourism Industry in Malta

COVID-19, like earlier pandemics, had a devastating impact on the tourism sector, with the consequences still being felt. Pandemics often result in a considerable drop in visitor arrivals, and as such the spread of COVID-19 also caused a worldwide downturn in international travel. Demand, spending, consumer confidence and, consequently, supply all dropped during the COVID-19 outbreak, raising problems that must be resolved quickly.

A major economic contributor to the Maltese economy is tourism, rendering directly and indirectly approximately 30% of the GDP and employing a significant amount of people. Following years of recurrent record growth, bolstered by the country´s enhanced connectivity and its reduced seasonality, Malta experienced an unprecedented dip in performance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maltese tourism sector also faces several challenges, such as integrating quality at all levels of the value chain, rebuilding the airline route network, and encouraging collaboration across diverse digital tourism efforts by consolidating and effectively using data. Tourism recovery will need to take into consideration these challenges, along with the new demands of the post-COVID-19 reality and the accelerated effects of climate change that pose direct threats to tourism. This will require a shift away from the previous economic model, implying more sustainable approaches to development.

The ESPON Peer Learning Workshop on Sustainable Pathways for the Tourism Industry in Malta will take place in this context and will allow insights into the sustainable development challenges of the Maltese tourism sector, and the recent strategies devised for their resolution. Event participants will have the opportunity to find out more about the sustainability solutions (decision-making tools, skills development programmes, innovative technologies) available for the tourism industry (and the hospitality sector in specific) created in diverse international initiatives, listen to the reflections of key Maltese tourism stakeholders (representing the policy, industry, research, innovation and capacity building dimensions) and engage into a debate with them on viable sustainability pathways for the Maltese tourism industry.

The presented solutions and the recommendations on sustainability measures deriving from the event will constitute a meaningful output for the Maltese decision-makers. Following the event, the key take-outs will be summarised in a report, serving as a support tool for their future decision processes on sustainable tourism.