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IPM members contribute to the development of a sustainable tourism model for Malta

IPM Fellow Dr Julian Zarb, Founder and President of the Malta Tourism Society, has been facilitating a series of 6 weekly discussions hosted by the Malta Tourism Society and the Institute for Travel Tourism and Culture at the University of Malta, developing an Online Think-Tank providing a platform for monitoring, facilitating and managing the change to a more sustainable form of tourism in a post-pandemic world.

This series of online discussions comprising academics, policy makers, consultants, politicians, representatives of professional bodies, industry associations and DMOs, along with tourism business owners is being seen as a think tank that will not only analyse the issues facing tourism before and after the pandemic but will establish those factors that can be adopted by destinations, including the Maltese Islands, for a sustainable and responsible tourism activity.

Over the past 6 weeks, panellists, including Dr Heather Skinner, IPM Senior Fellow and Chair of the IPM’s Visiting Places Special Interest Group, have been discussing issues around the following themes:

  • Tourism: present and future – what will be the new normal
  • The Tourist – an update to Maccannell’s profile. How different will this person be?
  • Taking sustainability and responsibility seriously. How can we manage tourism effectively?
  • The timeframe for the new normal in tourism. When will it all start?
  • Providing a platform for monitoring, facilitating, and managing the change
  • The new normal - is it a reality or is it fiction? Living with post-COVID constraints.

During these series of discussions, panellists also heard from a wide and international range of speakers including: The President of the Malta Association of Hospitality Executives who described the work being done by Government in Malta to reopen tourism; Dr Freya Higgins Desboilles, whose presentation focussed on the redefining and socializing of tourism, both sustainably and responsibly for the benefit of people living in tourism destinations; Tom Jenkins, CEO of the European Tour Operator Association, who described the changes that have occurred throughout the life of the modern tourism activity, over the past fifty years; Professor Tom Selwyn, who stressed the importance of tourism as a bridge between history, heritage and a community; and Professor Nigel Morgan, Head of the Tourism and Hospitality School at the University of Surrey, whose presentation highlighted the need to: Prioritise local and regional tourism; Protect and enhance local supply chains; Develop sustainable transport networks; Drive a values-based consumer market; De-carbonise the environment; Grow the Local economy; and Develop community partnerships, recognise tourism's value, and build product networks.

Even though these weekly discussions have now finished, Dr Zarb is keen to stress that this is not the end, it is just the beginning of this project:

“This is a time when we have this opportunity to start a new chapter, by developing a practical and researched study for this process. We will certainly add to those tiny drops of research, study, and work carried out by academics and, gradually, bridge the gap between academics and practitioners”.

The project will now continue with small working groups derived from the Think-Tank’s international participants. This project will continue to delve into the issues further and generate inspirational solutions and suggestions towards developing a more responsible and sustainable tourism model that could be adopted not by the Maltese islands but also by other similar destinations, particularly other small islands.


About the author


Formed in 2006, the Institute of Place Management is the international professional body that supports people committed to developing, managing and making places better.

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