Co-producing tourism experiences with fishing villages in Malta

Published on
July 8, 2021

Researchers from the Environmental Policy group (ENP) at Wageningen University and Research have been involved in the development of community-based digital tours in Marsaxlokk, Malta as a part of the PERICLES Heritage project. This initiative is part of an action-research process that aimed to re-connect fishing communities with their own heritage while co-producing new tourism experiences. The tours are now available and can be accessed through the story telling platform.

Coastal heritage in Malta

Together with the local community of Marsaxlokk in Malta, ENP researchers Jordi Vegas-Macias and Machiel Lamers have co-produced a series of digital audio guides for domestic and international visitors to this fishing village.

Cultural Maritime and Coastal Heritage (CMCH) is present everywhere in and around the village, such as the traditional brightly coloured luzzu fishing boats lined up in the inner harbour, and locals performing boat maintenance or mending fishing nets, and tourists are also present in rapidly increasing numbers.

Reconnecting through storytelling

Nevertheless, the two groups and their practices are disconnected, with tourists wandering and wondering where they are, and the local fishing community fearing that tourism will take over their waterfront area. In an attempt to start reconnecting tourism and fishing practices, we have introduced a story-telling initiative, aided with the izi-TRAVEL digital story telling platform, and funded through the Horizon 2020 PERICLES Heritage project. Key to the project is the co-creation of methods and tools to stimulate participatory governance and support local communities to manage and use their tangible and intangible heritage, and land- and seascapes.

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Members of the local council, heritage enthusiasts, and local tour operators were guided in the process of identifying and selecting narratives related to the local maritime heritage, writing text, providing images and narrating the stories. This material was included and uploaded in the design of several digitally guided walking and boating tours, whereby visitors can listen to locally narrated stories about the Marsaxlokk and its surroundings. Next to guiding this process the ENP researchers have been collecting data to analyse this action-research process and the implications.

More to come!

This promotion video (above) was produced in collaboration with a Maltese visual anthropologist and serves as a head start, after the COVID-19 restrictions, for the 2021 summer season. More results and academic outputs are expected in the coming Months when the PERICLES Heritage project draws to a close. Enjoy the audio guides, and stay tuned!