Malta goes green, set for the euro

Southern Europe’s Malta has enforced three environmental-friendly policies and is all set to begin using the euro beginning January next year.

Maltese Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi recently praised Malta’s achievements in developing greener policies, namely the ecolabelling award certifications for hotels, the certification of the island’s first blue flag beach, and the announcement of the Malta’s first national heritage and nature park.

The eco-labeling certification was an initiative taken by the Malta Tourism Authority together with the Malta Standards Authority (MSA). The criteria used was built on the eco label mark developed for the European Union Commission and was also sanctioned by the MSA which is the body responsible for certifications and accreditations such as the ISO and other internationally recognized brands. Labeling certification in Malta and Gozo is an important stage in creating a brand of accommodation and tourism services that are easily understood by all customers. The eco label mark means peace of mind for both the hotelier as well as the client.

Malta joins another 3200 beaches worldwide that have been granted a blue flag status by the Foundation for Environmental Education since 1987. St. George’s Bay in the center of the island was completed in 2005; the bay had been neglected for a number of years and it was the heavy investment that was put into the area by four major hotel companies which prompted the Government to embellish the bay and establish blue flag standards. The bay has now become Malta’s first blue flag nomination and it is hoped that many of the other small beaches to the North of the island could also be granted this certification.

It was an area that caused great controversy when it was earmarked as a new golf course development; situated to the North of the island, overlooking Ghajn Tuffieha beach and adjacent to the island’s newest five star hotel, The Golden Sands Radisson Hotel. The government listened to the various non-governmental organizations and local residents and decided to turn the area into a national park and heritage area. The land known as “Xaghra il-Hamra” (“The Red Wilderness Land”) is noted for its scenic, natural and historical attractions.

But the current Maltese government, which has now reigned for 20 years and will be facing general election, can most be proud of its success in the EU analysis to assess the island’s compatibility within the eurozone. This achievement means the changeover from the Maltese “Lira” to the euro will go ahead as planned from January 2008. Strategies are already in place to make this as smooth a changeover as possible and the National Euro Changeover Committee is monitoring the situation through educational and regulatory reform. The introduction of the euro has been widely accepted by many including those involved in the tourism industry on the islands.