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Painting Malta as a party island could “turn people off” – doctors speak out
“A lot of people in the tourism sector will lose faith in Malta”

Jillian Mallia

In today’s The BoardRoom session by Whoswho.mt, local and international doctors discuss Malta’s current situation with regards to COVID-19. Among other things, they’ve discussed mass gatherings and Malta being painted as the party island to be at this summer.

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“A lot of people in the tourism sector will lose faith in Malta,” says Dr Raina Rodrigues, who is based in both Malta and the UK. “The outlook and approach has been one of economic short-sightedness. There’s going to be short revenue stream which will be good in the short-term. However, the impact of a second wave which is what Malta appears to be going through seems as though is going to be larger,” she shares. “We cannot afford to sabotage long-term for very short-term gratification.”

She shares that Malta being painted out to be a party destination this summer will be turning people off from coming, saying that most tourists are looking for places that have handled the virus well and have a trackrecord of managing its COVID. Previously, it boosted confidence for tourists to book holidays here. Others will be totally put off. “We stand to win more,” if we are safe. She says Malta’s “tourism stream is not purely party people coming to learn English – there are a lot of retirees who come to Malta and spend long months in Malta. We are jeopardising those tourists coming in.”

“Everyone has to be pulling the same ropes,” chimes in Dr Kristen Buhagiar. “What we have started to gain in the last few weeks, we maintain it for the long-term not for the short-term, for the summer period, because after summer there’s winter and possibly another spike.”

“What we did right was, we overreacted to the public health directives,” says Prof Victor Grech, who shared that no one wanted the scenes in Italy to be replicated here. “What we did wrong was completely against public health advice. You cannot have social distancing in a festa,” or a party, he says.

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Obviously, the topic of the vaccine came up in discussion, to which Prof Grech had some insight to share. “Typically it takes 10 years for a vaccine to launch. With ebola they cracked it down to 5 years, with COVID there are hundreds of vaccines in the making and millions have been thrown in,” he said, sharing he is confident that it could come sooner. “We are desperate for a vaccine – the lack of one has stopped the world.”

In concluding remarks, Dr Rodrigues said, “We all want to boost our own economy but let us be the Maltese who boost our economy rather than a short-sighted view of a quick gain and then long-term morbidity, long-term deleterious effects on our health economy and on the global economy.”

31st July 2020


Jillian Mallia
Written by
Jillian Mallia
A book lover, writer and globetrotter who loves exploring new places and the local gems that the Maltese Islands have to offer. An avid foodie and arts fanatic, Jillian searches the island and beyond for the perfect settings to write about.

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