Will the proposed Gozo tunnel count as a tourism corridor? Asking for a friend

The Skinny • No. 35 | Post-COVID tourism corridors

What are we skinning? The Chamber of SMEs proposal to push for ‘safe tourism corridors’ for Malta and Gozo, in line with measures proposed by countries such as Iceland, which is opening up to tourists from 15 June, albeit with key restrictions in place.

Why are we skinning them? I would say they’re a very poignant – even ‘sweet’ – reminder of where we’re at right now re covid.

I don’t know, it feels a bit premature, even irresponsible, to be talking about tourism corridors when we’re dealing with a deadly virus. But people need to carry on working, and people will need to travel.

Fair enough, but why talk about tourism and not travel in general? The two have become intermingled for the most part – barring business trips – it’s not like random people just go off on pilgrimages all the time these days…

Stop being so glib! You know what I mean. Yes, you want seriousness. But tourism is one of Malta’s chief economic lifelines. Hardly a frivolous matter.

Okay, okay. But you spoke about the move being ‘sweet’. What do you mean by that? Well, it’s kind of heart-warming to see such a behemoth of an industry try and revive itself with such tentative, delicate steps…

I don’t think there’s anything terribly delicate about jolting back to pre-COVID life like a bull in a China shop while the pandemic still rages on…  Now you see, that’s a very inhumane way of looking at this whole thing.

Inhumane?! I’m talking about safeguarding human lives! Yes, but human lives also depend on making enough money to survive, and tourism is a big part of that for many Maltese people. As is travel – we are on an island after all.

So is this a physical health vs mental health issue, then? The fact that we’re literally forced to choose between one and the other is the clearest possible indication of the anxious times we’re living in. And no, I’m not giving you a definitive answer to that question.

Admit it, you’re already nostalgic about Malta being overrun with tourists in summer. Actually, no. Not at all. That’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, and I see that as a silver lining.

How so? Less crowds lead to obvious benefits. And shifting towards internal tourism may help us appreciate the nooks and crannies of Malta we’ve neglected in the past. Maybe it’ll help some of us get back on the front lines when it comes to safeguarding it, once we can protest again.

Do say: “There’s no denying that ‘reopening the economy’ will sound like a too-urgent need to some, and a callous decision to others. Let’s accept the fact that these are difficult times, and keep the blame-game and name-calling to a bare minimum”

Don’t say: “Will the proposed Gozo tunnel count as a tourism corridor? Asking for a friend.”