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The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry said it is “highly concerned” about “the fact” that international news is describing Malta as a destination for tourists “seeking inexpensive alcohol, legal drug consumption and uninhibited revelry”.

It is ostensibly referring to coverage by UK tabloid The Sun this month, where it described Malta as “Amsterdam-on-Sea” for its attraction to young Brits looking for “good food, cheap booze and legal weed.”

In July, the same tabloid referred to Malta as the new Magaluf, detailing Malta’s alcohol and nightclub scene.

In May, the conservative UK news portal The Telegraph reported a more positive profile of Malta, calling the island “the coolest in the Med” because of its rich history, fine-dining spots and opportunities for offroad adventures.

Referring to the more low-brow coverage of Malta as a summer destination, The Malta Chamber said such coverage “undermines more desirable avenues of tourism and is diametrically opposite to government’s repeated pledge to promote the Maltese Islands as a hub for quality tourism experiences”.

It stressed that “tourism plays a vital role when it comes to Malta’s identity”.

“Though the number of tourists visiting our islands may have increased, in real terms their spending power has decreased. This is why The Malta Chamber has consistently urged authorities to prioritise quality over numerical influx and to promote Malta’s uniqueness in terms of culture, heritage and history.

“This requires efforts which go beyond marketing and PR strategies. Waste collection, cleanliness, order, enforcement, clean seas and beaches, upkeep of public areas, a stable energy supply and traffic are just some of the areas that need to be significantly invested in to attract tourists who look for quality experiences.

“Over-construction needs to be addressed too. This becomes even more relevant when one notes that Mediterranean countries that Malta competes with have registered percentage increases in bed nights which are much greater than Malta’s.”

Therefore, the business-interest group stressed, Malta’s image “needs to be fixed and rebuilt”.

“Unless we immediately stem the tide, repositioning Malta as a destination of substance will not be possible. Visions, strategies and reforms which remain on paper are pointless. Immediate action from the authorities is required to revive Malta as a destination of choice by tourists looking for quality experiences. The preservation of our country’s appeal must supersede any transient allure of becoming a mere party hot-spot. Step up and act now.”

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