This is an important week for Malta, Gozo and indeed for all 27 member states of the European Union. From the 4 to 7 June, some 500 million voters will decide who will represent their interests in the European Parliament. This means that for those fortunate enough to make it through, they will have a tough time ensuring citizens’ and consumer rights, social welfare, economic and investment opportunities as well as ensuring intercultural dialogue. If they get it wrong and, by some turn of fortune they elect a member of the “Raving Looney Party” then they have an even tougher time playing that down but if they are smart enough to look for those candidates who are dedicated to the national interest instead of purely political animals then they are on to a winner.
Well, here we are, three days away from the big moment in Malta and Gozo and perhaps we can take a look at how this may affect us on these islands in terms of our tourism industry. Let us see now:
- We depend, in the large part, on Europeans (that includes the Brits, by the way!) for our core markets. So we need to make sure that our representatives can also be good ambassadors in Brussels who can uphold our reputation in terms of our character.
- Culture and history are two important products that make us unique on these islands, so we will need to ensure that our Parliamentarians can make these one of the central themes for a common heritage that merits attention and funding to enhance the attractiveness and living history of the Union.
- The environment is a theme that has been discussed and which has had its fare share of directives and legislation based on the conventions and international agreements to protect it and ensure a sustainable future for this planet and future generations. We need representatives who can take calculated decisions that we will not regret later. Tourism and the Environment are inseparable.
- Education is not just about institutionalised teaching but it is about best practice experience, continuous development, intercultural exchanges and civic pride and these are possibilities that we have had over the past five years and we can continue to benefit from over the next five years if our representatives in Brussels can work hand in hand with the Government in identifying the needs of these islands with respect to further training and knowledge building.
- The infrastructure is an important asset to building a product that is reliable and acceptable both for the local resident as well as for the visitor and the EU does offer financial assistance to help maintain our competitiveness in this respect too. But this means that we have to make our voices heard and be convincing enough if we want to continue to be successful in this aspect as well.
- Investment, the core of any country’s success, it creates jobs, economic growth and a quality of life for all citizens and this does not come easily. In a world that is being inundated with new and lucrative places for investment, we have a tough job – it has worked in the past because we struck the right balance but we need to work harder and those who are elected after 6 June will have to be committed and convinced that being members of the European Union is definitely an asset for investors. Tourism is a sector that can be alluring for investors because it offers a number of potential ventures – hotels, restaurants, attractions, commercial outlets and even support services such as airlines and transportation.
Next Saturday is not just any other election day, the significance of the day before the anniversary of one of the islands’ bloodiest uprisings against those who wanted to be opportunists, we need to take a more passive but striking action and vote for those who can deliver the benefits that I have mentioned – there are no excuses, we cannot close our eyes and blame our apathy on personal or local issues – after all, with the wrong people in Brussels those local and personal issues may get worse! These are difficult times for most of the 27 member states, we have a chance to look for convincing and committed people who really believe in Europe, let us not throw this away for the sake of our own egoism.