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Published on : Saturday, November 28, 2015
The Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis addressed the Commonwealth Business Forum during a panel session entitled, ‘Sustainable Tourism: Measuring Impact and Adding Value’. Discussing the issue of sustainability, the minister stated that the issue of sustainability represents a challenge that all the tourism destinations have to contend with today. The Minister for Tourism listed factors that are placing considerable pressure on destinations, namely, increased supply of tourism products, dilution in terms of consumer loyalty, and rapid technological advancements that accelerate the rate of obsolescence of plants and equipment. He emphasised that planning for sustainable tourism can prove fundamental in coping with such challenges and ensuring long-term returns and benefits for the destination.
Moreover, Minister Zammit Lewis explained that organisations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) have established guidelines on the subject of sustainability that have demonstrated to be essential instruments for policy-making, planning and management processes at destinations. These range from the management of natural resources to climate change.
Zammit Lewis defined the issue of sustainable tourism development in Malta as particularly challenging. “Malta operates in an industry where most of its competitors are able to derive a stronger competitive advantage, therefore we have been positioning our islands as a destination which offers more value for money through a diversified offer, which boasts the features of a sophisticated city destination alongside the qualities associated with a Mediterranean island setting.” The Minister for Tourism emphasised the importance of formulating long-term policies based on a sustainable framework to maintain the positive rate of progress in tourism. ‘We need to guide the development of tourism on the basis of a controlled growth scenario, and aim to optimise tourism activity by increasing benefits, whilst minimising adverse impacts. These considerations already form an integral part of our National Policy Document for the Tourism Industry, which outlines the direction we aim to pursue over the next couple of decades,’ said the minister.
During his address, Edward Zammit Lewis also described the Commonwealth as being unified by a common heritage that bridges distances, with a relative economic might and wealth within different cultures and languages. This provides all Commonwealth members with a common bond which transcends all other barriers, thus presenting them with numerous opportunities to support each other and work effectively together towards wider international goals.
The Minister for Tourism also stated that Commonwealth destinations face a spectrum of challenges which are economic, demographic, social or environmental in nature, among others.
In his concluding remarks, the minister stated that he is pleased that the Commonwealth has long recognised issues of development and sustainability as one of its priorities. He augured that Malta CHOGM 2015 will contribute to fulfil common aspirations towards assuring a prosperous and sustainable future for our respective populations within an effective spirit of strong cooperation and collaboration.