After a recent trip to Malta, a country I used to live in and adore, I was absolutely shocked how much it has actually changed in a very short period of time.
Only 10 years ago, when I first visited this Mediterranean gem of an island, everything seemed so different. I know, this probably makes me sound like a grumpy old man who has reached a point in his life where moaning has become an enjoyable daily activity, but that’s really not the case.
Malta is vibrant, the economy is booming and more tourists are visiting every year. It still very much a chaotic Mediterranean country with its pros and cons, but it now faces new challenges.
1. Property prices
As recently as 5 years ago, it was quite easy to find a place to rent for the summer for less than 500 Euros a month. Now, a quick look at the properties for rent in Malta shows that that budget won’t get you anywhere. There are a number of reasons for that, but the biggest one is not tourists. It’s foreign workers. Yes, the economy is attracting many talented people from all over Europe to work in the Gaming sector. Less skilled workers from Eastern Europe are also flocking to Malta and taking positions in the ever growing hospitality sector. This has pushed the prices of property so high, that the Government is even looking for ways to regulate the market.
2. Road infrastructure
It may seem absurd to talk about traffic jams on such a small island, but trust me they have become a problem. A really big problems. People living in London, Paris and New York have a better chance to be on time for work in the morning. Yes, new roads have been build and existing ones have been improved in the last few years, but it’s just not enough. The terrain and the local culture are somehow not that bike friendly. Most families own more than 2 cars now and even the high taxes aren’t stopping the increase of vehicles on the road. Different car sharing schemes and options for improved public transport have been suggested recently, but in all honestly there isn’t a concrete solution so far.
3. The Environment
One of the first things everyone pictures when hearing “Malta” is blue sea with crystal clear waters. And that’s pretty much still the case. However, a number of fishing farms, which didn’t exist a few years ago, are threatening the country’s treasure. People are taking advantages of loopholes not only overpopulating the farms, but also positioning them extremely close to the shore. The smell and the slime, which can be easily seen with a naked eye, do shock many tourists, which will probably not recommend Malta to their family and friends, let alone return to the island.
Overall, Malta is an amazing place full of lovely and very welcoming people. There is so much history and a ton of things to do. It won’t stop being a magnet for holiday makers anytime soon, but the challenges it faces are real and very serious ones. Really hoping solutions are found sooner rather than later, because there will be no winner if things don’t improve.