For the small Island country of Malta, a major source of revenue is the inflow of tourists from across the world who come visiting to enjoy the beaches during the summers. However, since the Labour Party government came to power, there was a concerted effort from the establishment to improve and expand the horizon of tourism in the country.
At the same time, the selection of Valletta as the European Capital of Culture in 2018 has also provided an opportunity to the government to showcase the rich history and culture of Malta. Throughout the year, the number of events planned have a strong emphasis on this aspect of the island country and the tourists have also been noticing it.
Also, for the tourists, learning and understanding about the history of Malta is a unique opportunity. An aerial view of Valletta shows a very strong influence of the Knights of St John who ruled the islands from 1530 till 1798. The order of the Knights is also attributed for improving the living conditions in Valletta and also building various structures throughout the city.
A walk through Valletta takes one back to the rich history of the Knights. At the same time, if you try to learn their national and official language – Maltese – you will realize that it has been influenced strongly by the Arabic language. In fact, Maltese language borrows a lot of words from the Arabic. But why so?
This is because the islands were occupied and ruled by the Arabs from 870 to 1090 and it left a deep impact on the Maltese language and its culture on the whole. But the actual Maltese history goes back to more than 8,000 years to the Neolithic Ages as remnants from the early settlements and temples from the same era are found in South Malta.
The Maltese islands have been ruled by 15 different empires and each empire brought a different culture with itself. This way this small country has a strong cultural and historical roots. For example, if we look at the religion practiced in Malta then majority of the people found here are Catholics. This is because St Paul shipwrecked on the island in 60 AD while he was on his way to Rome. This accident brought Christianity to Malta and the faith has survived here ever since.
Apart from this, the French also ruled Malta after Napolean conquered the islands in 1798 and then after his death, the British occupied it in 1800. The British were the last foreign rulers and stayed in Malta till it gained independence in 1964. The modern day system of administration in Malta takes most of its inspiration from the British administration system.
This rich history of Malta lead to Valletta’s selection as the European Capital of Culture this year and the current government has left no stones unturned to leverage this opportunity.
“Ultimately our goals in the tourism sector match the vision we have for the country – that of putting Malta on the global map and attracting the best talents to our shores whilst providing a safe and tranquil environment to our visitors. We remain steadfast in this vision and I am convinced that the best days for the tourism sectors are still ahead of us,” Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in March this year while addressing the Mediterranean Tourism Forum.
Meanwhile, the number of tourists visiting Malta touched a new record number this year and there have been a number of other initiatives taken by the government to promote sustainable tourism. As it continues to host events during Valletta 2018, Malta aims to spread more awareness about its culture among the tourists.