The pursuit of cheap package tours can seriously effect an economy, a country's reputation and ruin your holiday. How do I know? I put my hand in my pocket and took such a cheap deal to those Mediterranean jewels Malta and Gozo. And was it an eye opener...
Over the decades, the British holidaymaker has dominated Malta's tourist industry and our fixation for a holiday bargain has forced hotels into a position where they had to offer tour companies ridiculous deals. It was not unusual for the punter to pick up a full-board deal for a mere £5 a night.
However, in the last six years since my last visit, there appears to have been an increase in tourists visiting from other countries such as those in the Middle East. The resultant revenue may well have broken the strangle hold held by the tour operators touting cheap holidays. While some tourists may resent the increase in hotel costs, the subsequent improved standards in accommodation and food has to be welcomed.
There is a healthy buzz in the Maltese air. The development and maintenance of properties and tourist sites is impressive and, dare I say, quite sophisticated. Unfortunately, there are still examples of those cut-price holiday haunts to be found – and now Malta's entry into the European Union is increasing overheads their standards are tumbling in order to maintain profits.
Yes, I love Malta and Gozo. Yes, I love the people. And yes, I am thinking of moving here once I've bought my next yacht. But it is time that tourists realise the cultural and environmental value of these islands rather than look at them as a cheap holiday destination. Then, perhaps, we can get rid of some of those cheap tour operators and hotels that devalue the tourist destination and who take the piss out of their customers. Remember, if you want a first-class service you have to pay for it.
Some tour operators are also forgetting that they are dealing with people who have worked hard to earn their holiday. These poor holidaymakers are losing their identity as those operators pursue profits. I've lived this first-hand during the past week and I am so pissed off that I hope to have rallied fellow tourists to take this up further with our tour operator Malta Bargains - I'll let you know what happens. Meanwhile, I'll post a few photos and words to give you a flavour of Malta and Gozo in the hope that you will visit soon. Just make sure you pick the right company to go with.