dimanche, septembre 10, 2006
Today's Sunday TOM Editorial kicks off with a nice title. "Low-cost is not enough". The editor seems to appreciate the introduction of the new low-cost routes and reserves some praise for this step in what he deems is the right direction. However the editorial also adds that the low-cost airlines alone will not suffice to attract tourism. In a sort of eye-opening moment for the more general of readerships we can recognise the acknowledgement of the existence of a new breed of tourist. This kind of tourist is the one who is armed with an internet connection and prepares his trip independently from any managers of mass movement - better known as tour operators. The editorial stresses the need for Malta to accomodate these new tourists needs - particularly by becoming more available on the internet. Malta and its tourist industry need to have a stronger presence on the net in order to catch the much wider net of tourism that is now available.
I can see the logic behind this belated comment by the Times Editor. Anyone who has purchased a low-cost airline ticket knows that once the final purchase transaction for your trip is over you do not turn off the computer. Nope. Your next step is to book accomodation (on computer), possibly book a car or research transport (train, weekend tickets etc - all on computer) and finally you will check out what's on and where in your new destination (also on your computer). Some of these searches will have already occurred preliminarily before booking the trip itself. In essence a strong net presence is very, very important for the country - or city - you plan to visit. If the outlook from internet searches is gloomy then you might very easily opt for another more accessible country. Virtual reality has to be as attractive as the real thing.
Much as I love to discuss the merits and demerits of the attractiveness of Malta as a tourist detination and much as I understand the importance of the tourist industry to the Maltese economy, my primary motivation for the constant rants about low-cost airlines in J'accuse was not tourism. Not at all. I was more concerned about travelling OUT of Malta rather than in. You know what I mean. Getting the average Maltese person to travel more and see the world. Releasing the pent-up frustration that inevitably stocks these tiny islands' people. The low-cost airlines are a parallel and as necessary a development as incentives to tertiary education. They are the door to a better future based on a well-travelled population.
It may sound bombastic at this point but I am sure that less Hamilton Tours and more Do-It-Yourself will help this nation regain a bit of the balls that it has lost along the way ever since Mintoff decided to get the people to accept the concept of nanny state and the idea that there will always be someone to do things for you. Maybe one day we will understand that nobody owes us a living.