From Data to Action: Building a Thriving Future for Tourism & Nature

Valletta, Malta - On May 10th, 2024. Ecostack Innovations and the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) hosted a Participatory GIS (PPGIS) workshop aimed at delineating and sharing insights on Malta's natural tourism landscape. The event, organised as part of the Horizon Europe project SELINA, brought together stakeholders from various sectors to contribute to the strategic planning for sustainable tourism development.

The workshop centred on utilising a digital participation tool to collect spatial data reflecting the preferences of stakeholders, tourists, and residents alike, with the goal of identifying key sites for tourism and areas necessitating conservation efforts. Participants engaged in mapping exercises and collaborative discussions, shaping the trajectory of nature-based tourism in Malta.

In his opening speech, MBB CEO Joe Tanti highlighted the importance of sustainability in the tourism sector, stressing the need for a shift towards more environmentally friendly practices. "We are here today supporting Ecostack Innovations in their SELINA Horizon Europe project, aiming to unlock the potential of nature-based tourism," said the MBB CEO. "As we engage in discussions about sustainable tourism development and the preservation of Malta’s environmental heritage, nature-based tourism deserves a prominent place on our agenda."

Dr Mario Balzan, Director at Ecostack Innovations, underscored the role of nature-based tourism for economic development. "Nature is already valued by locals and tourists alike. As an innovation-based enterprise, we have been working with business stakeholders from Malta to assess the value of nature for recreation and tourism, and to support businesses with developing their offering to their clients while ensuring sustainability." 

Throughout the workshop, the participants shared insights to promote responsible tourism practices. Discussions centred around ways to minimise the environmental impact of tourism activities while maximising economic benefits for local communities.

In 2023, Malta welcomed a record number of inbound tourists, surpassing the 3 million mark, signifying an 8.3% increase compared to 2019's 2.77 million tourists. However, amidst recovery efforts post-COVID-19, Malta faces new challenges, particularly the accelerated effects of climate change, posing direct threats to the tourism sector. This necessitates a shift towards sustainable approaches to mitigate the environmental impact on the island. Recognising the centrality of our natural environment to the tourism product, it is imperative to champion a green tourism recovery.

Moving forward, Ecostack Innovations and the Malta Business Bureau are committed to continuing their partnership to promote sustainable tourism development in Malta.

We invite anyone interested in contributing to the mapping of Malta's natural tourism landscape to participate in our questionnaire. Your insights are valuable in shaping the future of nature-based tourism development in Malta.