Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.

Source: Melita Historica. [Published by the Malta Historical Society]. 5(1969)2(194-195)

ALESSANDRO K. VIORA: L'Evoluzione Economica delle Isole Maltesi e i suoi Aspetti Geografici, Roma, Società Geografica Italiana, 1967, 47 pages.

This short but fairly detailed survey of the Maltese Economy and its problems is of great interest to the historian. Sig. Viora makes a very convincing case for his thesis that Tourism could provide the main source of foreign exchange for these islands. The other two pillars of the economy — Industry and Agriculture — in his view present serious problems for the future which will be difficult to solve.

Sig. Viora is surely correct in saying that Malta (and Gozo) possess all the 'raw materials' necessary for the creation of a thriving Tourist industry. The islands have natural beauties of great charm and attraction. He himself is obviously in love with these islands and his description of Dwejra in Gozo defies translation:

"Una descrizione, per quanto vivace, non potrà mai dare 1'immagine dei contrasti dei colori che si succedono in breve spazio; il blu più o meno intense delle acque del mare, il verde chiaro di quelle che formano il laghetto, il bruno rossiccio della scarpata rocciosa, il bianco quasi accecante delle casette e di vicine cave di pietra, il nero del profondo traforo naturale e il turchese del limpido cielo!"

These natural assets he declares must be preserved and enriched. The coast must not be destroyed by ill-conceived developments. Ribbon development is a great danger since it destroys the splendid vistas and views available to all from the roads. The natural attractions must be saved for all to enjoy including the tourists. In short, Malta and Gozo must be made pleasant to live in and thus to visit. The need for a development plan (long overdue now) based on principles such as these obviously makes sound economic sense.

Sig. Viora also stresses the importance of preserving and embellishing the island's historical heritage as one of the major touristic attractions. "The Monuments bearing witness to the historical evolution of the Maltese Islands are very numerous. These, since they are crowded into such a small area, appear to be displayed in a vast museum." This great asset must be taken advantage of, as he so rightly concludes. More attention [p.195] must be paid in particular to archaeological rernains, impressive as they are not only to the expert but also to the tourist. The message of this monograph is clear: it is sheer lunacy to spend millions on hotels if tourists visiting these islands find themselves and the Maltese enclosed in a case of concrete and tarmac.

R. Vella Bonavita.