Malta Diary The lamps have gone out and it will be a long time before they come back on again
e/mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
My Blog: https://myreachingout.wixsite.com/myblog.
“The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey remarked to a friend on the 3rd August, 1914, at the onset of the First World War which accounted for the loss of millions of lives.
The current Covid-19 pandemic and the disaster it has brought so far has been likened to situations in both WWI and WWII – with Europe particularly hit.
Amidst all the disasters and thousands of deaths “the proof of the pudding” has been the sharp split in the European Union and the so-called “united we stand” philosophy. Lamps have already gone out in Europe and many more outages seem to be in the offing.
As people died the EU big-wigs continued to wrangle over financial aid packages with Spain and Italy sharply accusing Germany, Holland and others that their sole interest is national unto them and has no relativity to unity. A deal was finally clinched but the bitter inter-exchanges will not be forgotten quickly.
EU North/South cracks had already appeared for a long time over immigration issues with the south of Europe suffering the brunt of illegal immigration and practically receiving little or no help from anywhere within the rest of the EU. The attitude was the immigration problem lay with Italy, Malta, Greece and Spain and was therefore of no concern to the north.
The shimmer of hostility has now gone well over the top and threatens to smash the European Union once and for all. Seething with anger, Malta’s Government has now put its foot down on illegal immigrants and said, no matter the consequences, it simply cannot take more illegal immigrants, will not replenish NGO vessels with supplies and will not allow any further disembarkations.
This has been another highly sore point with NGO vessels registered in Germany and Holland actively aiding human trafficking and dumping immigrants on Malta and Italy under the guise of being “humanitarian”.
In the meanwhile, life somehow has to go on and the small cluster of Maltese Islands is suffering the brunt. One of the mainstays of the economy since Independence in 1964 has been tourism, generally always on the increase and in recent years, showing substantial escalation with record numbers of arrivals.
Hotel and holiday apartments were packed and had even shown substantial occupancy during the off-shoulder months; the national airline Air Malta was operating 20 daily flights as well as a glut of Ryanair, BA, Alitalia and Lufthansa flights; restaurants and bars were packed day and night, car hire was at a premium and taxi drivers were on a bonanza.
This stopped abruptly a month ago when everything vanished overnight with wholesale closures. Air Malta is now operating just two daily flights for repatriation and the carriage of merchandise and has notified it will have to lay off a number of personnel. All hotels, bars and restaurants, museums and heritage outlets are closed and with many streams of parked cars for hire lying empty. Many employees in the tourist sector are now jobless.
Ambitious plans for further luxury Six Star hotels (over and above the previously booming Five and Four) have been shelved. All other plans have been shelved.
Trying to put on a brave front and keep morale high, politicians and those in the tourist sector, have described this as a pause to enable more optimistic future plans for the tourist industry. Great stuff – but when is this likely to happen?
It is impossible to forecast any date for the end of the pandemic. It could be September, it could be December, and it could be beyond that.
Let us assume the point when the pandemic passes over – how long will it take internal and external tourism to start recovering? To expect an instant return to “the old days” is extremely foolish.
When the pandemic is eventually over what will be the financial position of the majority? Hundreds of thousands are unemployed; hundreds of thousands either have no wages or are being subsidised for basics; hundreds of thousands are having to dig deep into their financial pockets and their savings just to survive.
When it’s all over there may be great relief and the first thought could well be to have a jolly good holiday. However, having a jolly good holiday requires having jolly old money …
There are further thoughts that until the international scene recovers, there will at least be internal tourism and people will once more flock to bars and restaurants. But will they? Money once again will be a problem, making up lost savings, catching up on unpaid bills, carrying out necessary maintenance that had to be postponed and a thousand and one other things.
Yep, the lamps have gone out and it is going to take a jolly long time before they come on again – if ever.
”Better to say damn than to say ouch”
Better to take the initial discomfort and prevent the final disaster.