Client: Malta Tourism Authority and the Ministry for Gozo
Start / Finish Dates:
Adi Associates has recently finalised Malta’s new diving strategy – Developing A Sustainable Diving Industry in the Maltese Islands: A Strategy for the Future, 2022. The Strategy was officially launched on 23rd May 2022 and outlines a framework to guide the sustainable development of the diving industry in line with the guiding principles of the new national Tourism Strategy 2021 – 2030.
Adi Associates was entrusted with the preparation of the Strategy by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and the Ministry for Gozo (MGOZ).
The Strategy updates and supersedes the 2006 Diving Masterplan for Gozo and Comino and the 2011 Masterplan to Support a Sustainable Diving Industry in Malta.
Preparation of the Strategy had commenced prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its formulation involved analysis of the status of the diving industry as it was pre-pandemic, as well as analysis of how the industry should be targeted as Malta emerges from the pandemic.
There was extensive consultation prior to and during the pandemic, with the key Government agencies and within the industry itself, including a survey targeting dive centres and individual divers, conducted over summer 2021. The Strategy was also informed by detailed site surveys to ascertain the status and condition of the facilities available at the popular dive sites on Malta and Gozo.
The Strategy outlines a direction for the diving industry based on five Strategic Objectives, with an implementation plan of short and longer-term actions designed to achieve the objectives.
Strategic Objective 1 recognises the need to upgrade the essential infrastructure at the dive sites, including by ensuring year-round access to the sea and streamlining the responsibility for the provision and maintenance of the infrastructure. Action for improvement will initially target the shore dive sites and, subsequently, the boat dive sites, including assessing what is required to establish permanent mooring buoys at such sites.
Objective 2 seeks to improve the protection and management of the dive sites and the diving resource. Actions identified include formally designating the popular shore and boat dive sites, facilitating their better management and their marketing and promotion. Designating Marine Parks at key locations around Malta, Gozo and Comino, with the first being at Ċirkewwa to Qammieħ (for which a management plan will shortly issue) is also identified. Actions to promote environmental stewardship within the industry, and to raise awareness of the regulations with respect to dives sites, include having a Code of Practice for all involved in the industry, training on environmental awareness, and an awareness-raising campaign.
Objective 3 targets improving the regulation of the diving industry, including through clarifying the management responsibilities for enforcing the regulations under the Notices to Mariners.
Objective 4 aims to support the industry in the training and recruitment of staff, with the COVID-19 pandemic having served to significantly impact in this area, as well as BREXIT, which has curtailed recruitment from the UK market. Action in this respect involves establishing a training course locally for divers.
Finally, Objective 5 recognises the need for the future diversification of the industry, to allow it to remain competitive. Actions include providing new attractions, including through the scuttling of the MT Hephaestus, which is to be scuttled off the south coast of Gozo later in 2022, and exploring the potential for deploying artificial reefs in the longer-term. The potential to develop the technical diving market is recognised in the preparation of a working document to outline a framework of action for this increasingly important niche.