The Republic of Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an independent country, which includes the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, covering an area of 316 square kilometres. The Republic of Malta has a population of 417,617 (National Statistics, Demographic Review 2010) most of who live on the island of Malta. Appendix 1 shows that tourism in Malta started to grow in the late 1960’s with visitor numbers increasing from 47,804 in 1965 to 334,519 by 1975. By 1980 visitors numbers were up to 728,732, with the tourism industry aimed at attracting the mass market. (Lockhart, 1997) The latest tourist numbers stand at 1.3 million. (National Statistics, Tourist Departures, 2010) As with many Mediterranean islands Malta’s tourism has been historically focused on mass tourism, sun, sea and sand package holidays resulting in the neglect of historical cultural and environmental impacts. (Dodds, 2007) The rapid development of tourism in Malta combined with the high number of seasonal visitors has lead to number of impacts. These impacts can be accessed using the triple bottom line approach developed by John Elkington in reference to the economic, social and environmental impacts. (Elkington, 1997)
When identifying the issues that Malta is facing, the principles of the Cape Town Declaration, Agenda 21 and the context of Responsible Tourism have been used as point of reference as well as a number of official reports, including the State of the Environment Reports (2002, 1998 and 2005 and Malta’s National Report to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002). On the basis of this research the following issues have been identified. 2.1Economic Issues
2.1.1Pressure on the island infrastructure
The rapid development of the tourism industry in Malta has resulted in insufficient consideration and planning being given to the country’s infrastructure. Malta is a small island, yet its infrastructure, as previously mentioned now has to support its own population and the 1.3 million tourists. Despite the growing numbers of tourists, inadequate investment into the country’s infrastructure is still not in place. This is a common issue in many resorts; infrastructures are unable to cope with the intensity of tourist visitation at peak periods of the year (Mathieson and Wall 1982) Malta’s roads are of poor condition. With congestion, noise and air pollution being an issue. The water supply, waste management, beaches and visitor attractions are stretched to capacity in the summer months each year when visitor numbers are at their peak. 2.1.2Seasonality of visitors
Tourism in Malta is very seasonal, with the majority of incoming tourists arriving in the May to October period. In 2005, 68.4% of tourists arrived during these months, with 47.8% arriving during the months of July and September. (Appendix 2 shows Malta’s Tourist Departures 2001-2005) This shows that tourist densities in Malta are very high during the peak season. In recent years the total number of tourists amounted to almost three times as much as the resident population. (Briguglio and Briguglio, 1996) 2.2Social Issues
Malta’s tourism industry operates 12 months of the year; the seasonality causes issues for the Maltese citizens as employment within the tourism sector in not full time. High tourist densities As previously mentioned, Malta has a densely populated country. The influx of visitors who arrive during the busy peak season, cause overcrowding and congestion, putting increased pressure on the already strained infrastructure. This creates discomfort for the local residents. (Briguglio and Briguglio, 1996) as they are unable to use the local transport, visit places of interest or go to the beach. Damage to historical places is caused through frequent visitor numbers with many of the important locations being in a state of decay 2.3Environmental Issues
2.3.1Rapid increase in building...