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tourismInitiatives to mark Word Tourism Day always attract a great deal of attention and this year the MHRA teamed up with MEPA to create awareness amongst those working in the tourism industry on how tourism and respect for the environment go hand in hand.

Although tourism is a primary force driving our national economic prosperity, it also plays an important role in managing and conserving our Island’s biological resources.

For this purpose, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) with the support of the Malta Hotels  and Restaurants Association (MHRA) is organising a series  of talks on the importance and richness of our local biodiversity for employees working within the hospitality industry.

During 2010, the world is celebrating the International Year of Biodiversity, and so, this year the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has announced that the World Tourism Day celebrations will take place under the theme 'Tourism and Biodiversity'. The theme highlights the importance of biodiversity to tourism and the role of sustainable tourism in the conservation of life on Earth.

Peter Gingell, who is responsible for communications at MEPA, said “Throughout this year, MEPA has embarked on an educational programme through various initiatives and a campaign to stimulate the public’s awareness on the true meaning of the word biodiversity. We are working to ensure that biodiversity does not remain an alien word for Maltese but becomes part of our vocabulary.” 

“Knowing the real meaning of biodiversity is in itself another aspect of safeguarding our biodiversity,” he added.

The talks highlight how Maltese biodiversity is an invaluable heritage, which apart from its intrinsic values, offers other values, which are social, aesthetical, recreational, educational, scientific, cultural and ecological in nature. The talks will also equip employees working within the tourism industry to appreciate and share our hidden treasures with tourists.

Mr George Schembri, Chief Executive of MHRA commented, “The MHRA fully supports the initiative being taken by MEPA. We are satisfied that several member hoteliers are participating together with MEPA and MTA in creating the necessary awareness through their employees to the real meaning of biodiversity, its interaction with tourism and  its protection.”

Ms Christina Galea, Human Resource Director for Island Hotels Group noted “As a group we have always had a strong commitment towards Responsible Business and encourage our employees to participate in various activities throughout the year to support this.

Talks like the ones organised by MEPA on Biodiversity are of great interest and also address the need for greater awareness on one of the many aspects of our environment. Awareness and education is the first step in encouraging all stakeholders to take responsibility and understand how each person can make a difference in improving and safeguarding our heritage be it historical, cultural or natural.”

Mr David Vella, Director of Human Resources at InterContinental Hotel said “As part of our approach to responsible business, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts believes it's our responsibility to get involved at grass roots level  to protect and enhance the natural environment, heritage and communities our hotels reside in.”