The tourism industry has always been one of the main pillars of Malta’s economy, generating income and creating employment for thousands of families across the Maltese Islands. The mild climate enjoyed by the Maltese islands tends to make the summer months the most popular among tourists; however, Malta and Gozo have much more to offer than sun and sea.
For this reason, Malta’s Tourism Policy, together with the Operational Programmes for Cohesion Policy 2007-2013, aims to reduce this seasonality and enhance the tourism product offered by the Maltese Islands. Operational Programme I dedicates an entire Priority Axis to Promoting Sustainable Development through actions financed under the European Regional Development Fund. The objectives of this priority are to
One of the aspects which is being given much attention through this Priority Axis is the preservation and restoration of the islands’ cultural heritage. This is being done through the restoration and rehabilitation of the historical fortifications around Malta and Gozo, one of the main attractions for tourists, as well as the conservation of other important historical sites such as the Tarxien and Ġgantija Temples and St. Paul’s catacombs. A number of heritage trails and other initiatives aimed at increasing the touristic appeal of towns and villages across the Maltese Islands are also being created. As a means of further diversifying the tourism product, a new exhibition hangar for the Malta Aviation Museum and the Malta National Aquarium, with 25 fish display tanks and replicas of historical artifacts, are another two key projects within the tourism sector. Additionally, a €10 million grant scheme has been set up to assist private tourism operators to increase their competitive edge within the sector.
Needless to say, besides having the physical structures to attract more quality tourists to the islands throughout the year, the human element is equally important. Through Operational Programme II, financed under the European Social Fund, a training programme to enhance and formally certify the necessary skills for the management grades within the tourism industry has been developed.