The Regeneration Of The Tourism Market In Marsaskala
Following the closure of the Jerma Palace hotel, the locality of Marsaskala suffered a big blow with respect to the amount of tourists visiting the locality. Conscious of this problem, Marsaskala Local council applied for the ERDF funding under Priority Axis 2 – Promoting sustainable tourism with the main goal being that of supporting the upgrading of the tourism product. The application submitted by Marsaskala Local council with the title – The Regeneration of the Tourism Market in Marsaskala was successful and was selected amongst many other applications submitted from Local councils.
Over the years the importance of Malta’s cultural identity (both tangible and intangible) to the tourism industry has grown considerably. Despite most heritage sites being in a bad state of disrepair for which 14% of visitors to Malta rated the environment (including cultural) as bad or very bad (Operational Programme I, p113) and usually void of any presentation and interpretation facilities. Research indicates that history and culture are primary motivators for tourists choosing Malta as their tourism destination, over and above weather and recreational considerations.
Through this ERDF project Marsaskala Local council would be contributing towards further protection of the Maltese natural and historical /cultural assets by contributing through the upgrading of an important site (Fort St Thomas) on the south of the island, further promoting and adding to the economic revival of the locality through the upgrading, and the provision of new facilities suitable for tourists. This will be achieved due to the fact that the area selected for upgrading is at present not being utilised and is in an abandoned state and through the intervention works being proposed we would be establishing a new area which would cater for tourist needs and reducing the burden on central government intervention. The works to be implemented on the site would be in line with further providing niche market tourism products and product development, since the site in question already has all the requisites for such classification; however it needs this project to make it fully available as a niche tourist product by focusing on works around the San Tumas Fort.
Moreover, Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna is currently working on a project to convert Fort St Thomas into a pirate museum which would result in an attraction to tourists and even locals. Hence the Marsaskala Local council would be enhancing the external environment of Fort St Thomas whilst Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna would be taking care of the internal aspect of this Fort.
Marsaskala Local council has also committed itself to create numerous events and activities aimed to attract more tourists to Marsaskala with the ultimate goal being that of placing Marsaskala Local council on the tourist map. The council in fact already organises a lot of events including historic re-enactments next to Fort St Thomas.
The proposed project will therefore contribute to government objectives of increasing competitiveness by dispelling destination fatigue by means of investing in the sustainable development of new and vibrant heritage attractions in order to satisfy visitor needs and wants for quality cultural experiences, whilst at the same time protecting and conserving our heritage sites for current and future generations.
The local council of Marsaskala aims at increasing the number of tourists coming to this locality and thus reviving the economic activity with the help of the interventions envisaged in this proposed project. The local council of Marsaskala, the residents and the businesses believe that Marsaskala offers a perfect tourist destination which combines sun, sand and sea intertwined with cultural heritage and Maltese traditions and thus will be working together with the aim of strengthening the touristic package and offering a ‘worthwhile experience’. The vision for Marsaskala is not to create a commercial hub for summer tourists but an all year destination where the tourists will be able to experience an authentic experience
As indicated above, amongst the interventions proposed under this project, the local council is concerned with reviving the cultural heritage site of Fort St.Thomas and the upgrading of Promenade in Triq il-Qaliet ( St Thomas area), which guarantee the promotion of sustainable tourism as outlined in the Tourism Policy for the Maltese Islands 2007-2011.
Following the implementation of the above mentioned activities, namely upgrading and provision of facilities, the immediate result will include the following:
- Increased competitiveness through a broadened cultural tourism offer;
- An improved environment;
- Increased accessibility for both visitors and locals of all abilities and nationalities; and;
With respect to OPI’s recognition of the need to improve the quality of the overall tourism product, this project will not only enhance the visitor’s experience whilst on site but also improve the experience of their context – maximizing on the potential of the locality of Marsaskala. The project will also, to some extent, contribute towards the development of Niche Markets and destination branding, as heritage is one of the three core values that make up the Malta brand.