Heritage tourism is the travel to experience destinations and activities that represent a group of people’s culture, history and the present (Paolo, 2002). Megalithic temple of Gigantija Gozo Malta is an example of a heritage site that is rich in these resources. Primary data was obtained through interviews and interactive discussions with the head curator of Megalithic temples of Gigantija in Gozo and malta; Mr. Kenneth Gambin. Further discussion was also held with another official; James Aquilina. Data was also obtained from secondary sources which included internet sites, books and literature from the libraries and other academic publications (Heritage Malta, 2008). This report identifies the resources and visitor attractions that are present in this site. It analyses the management of the site and explores the various ways in which this site can be improved to attract more visitors.
2.0 Megalithic temple of Gigantija Gozo
2.1 Megalithic temple of Heritage Malta
These temples are believed to be the oldest structures standing freely and have been innovated as the culture of the residents evolves. These monuments have been in existence for approximately 7,000 years and form a wealth of artifacts which reflect the island’s history. These natural resources are as a result of man’s discovery and innovation which have been articulated in the modern art for continuity. They consist of museums, temples and underground chambers which are very fascinating to the visitors. They portray the creativity and rich culture of the people who inhabited the place before Phoenicians arrived at the destination (Heritage Malta, 2008).
2.2 Megalithic temple of Gigantija Gozo
This tourist destination consists of two megathilic complex of temples which have a massive wall separating them. The monument has been preserved over the years by a series of restoration works in the 20th century. The name gigantija originates from the belief that the walls were built by giants who existed in the 16th century. Some of the striking features of this temple are the remains of bones from animals. These suggest that there were rituals that were carried out in the temples. They make visitors to explore and learn the history and culture of the people who inhabited this destination. Holes excavated on the surface suggest that liquid offerings were also performed in these temples. Soft limestone was used for the altars and doors and in other decorative slabs. This brings our creativity in the way the architectural styles are used to bring out beauty and elegance (Heritage Malta, 2008).
2.3 Core resources and products in Megalithic temple of Gigantija Gozo and Heritage Malta
The temples are the greatest form of attraction. Visitors want to see the architecture used in the construction of the temples and appreciate the beauty depicted by this creativity. The decorations used and some of the remains form a good source of archeological materials which are preserved to serve the needs of the tourists. Paintings and sculptures most of which have been prepared in the studio are a common source of attraction. They are painted on stones, wood and canvas or even on copper plates. They make a bulk of the attractions. Most people from different cultures all over the world communicated their emotions through the use of paintings. The temples have immovable objects which form the most bulk of the artifacts available. They include ceramics, glass objects and even molded metals and carved stone. Textiles are also represented in these temples in form of veils, flags and costumes. The way of dressing represents a community’s way of life and culture. It is a form of identification and this has often been used as a symbol for most communities. Architecture is preserved through the establishment of a conservation studio to ensure that the future generation will have the chance to experience this destination (Edgell, 2006; Heritage Malta 2008).
Tangible products in this tourist destination include the temples, their compositions and the archeological objects inside the buildings. The staffs in this site also offer guided tours in which visitors are provided with a lot of information about the destination. They also offer photography filming and visitors are offered these films at a cost for every image. Visitors also have a chance to rent sites for their functions and events. This promotes awareness and generates funds for the preservation of the site. Augmented products are also available in this tourist site. They include services such as group visits which are normally organized by agents. Gift shops in which the visitors can purchase souvenirs paintings and other products are also available; they give the visitors memories on the site. Visitors are also offered transport services that enable them to move within the temples and the various sites (Jones, 1999; Heritage Malta, 2008).
Events are also organized to ensure that the visitors experience adventure with memorable moments. These include open days for the people who love art and design to explore and learn more about this subject. Artists also visit the museums and get inspiration from the paintings and other well known artists who paint during these events. Frequent visitors are provided with membership schemes where they can attend these events at a discounted rate. They get an opportunity to experience the heritage trail evening tour and cultural tour facilitated by MCCA. These events are used to make every visit a new experience. They ensure that visitors keep coming back to experience more. They also provide a variety in the products and services offered every year and make the visits to the temples worth looking forward to. These tourist destinations provide interactive sessions with the visitors and give them an opportunity to explore and learn more about art and design. Education has been provided through libraries in which teachers avail downloadable learning resources which are used in the sites’ museums. Higher education is also promoted to willing students, for instance masonry heritage skills that offer learners skills on building and construction. These are offered in conjunction with other learning institutes give the learners’ skills that can be used to earn them a living. Other short term courses that develop individuals professionally are offered to ensure that learners upgrade their skills and use them to maintain and preserve cultural heritage resources (Gentile, Spiller & Noci, 2007; Timothy & Nyaupane, 2009).
One of the major stakeholders to this tourist destination is the Heritage Malta who are greatly involved in managing the museums and the sites. They also provide up to date collections and facilitate the events and activities run in the tourist site to provide the best experience for the visitors. Conservation and continuation for this site is maintained to ensure that the future generation will enjoy this tourism experience as well (Edgell, 2006). The Malta tourism authority is also another stakeholder who hold regular meeting with Heritage Malta to plan on how to improve and promote this tourist destination. They organize for ways in which the culture can be maintained while issuing exciting packages to attract more visitors. The people who have direct contact with the visitors are the tour operators, the MICE section and the language schools. They work according to the stipulated parliament law to come up with ticketing prices. Other packages offered are decided by the stakeholders who work with the marketing and advertising sections (Leighton, 2006 ; Heritage Malta, 2008).
Visitors make up the most significant group of stakeholders. This destination attracts both the local and foreign markets that come to learn the culture of the Ggantija. They are attracted by the packages, events offered and the tourism experience that they get. Students also love this destination because it offers them a wide range of reading resources and skills. The libraries and the museums offer a good learning experience as well as the information provided by the staff in Ggantija. The minority groups and disabled representatives form part of the stakeholders. They are great beneficiaries to this tourism site. The surrounding environment to the temples consists of the local councils and the neighbors. The research studies are done through the neighboring communities; matters such as drainage or electricity are addressed through the local councils. They therefore form a fundamental part of the stakeholders who promote the continuity of Ggantija. When open days and other annual events are organized, there is support from these communities and this helps in building good relationships that promote heritage tourism. The local council Xaghra supports the annual events organized by Ggantija (Garrod & Fyall, 2000; Sethi, P 1999; Heritage Malta, 2008).
The media also plays a part in this organization through publishing reports on the organization and promoting awareness among the public. Media also comprises of the websites, the information kiosks and panels in the museums, info guides and interactive CDs available in the sites. Social media like Facebook, You tube and twitters have also been utilized to ensure that this destination attracts a wider range of markets. Other people apart from the employees working there include the outsourced cleaning contractors, the security companies and the maintenance contractors. They form part of the Ggantija community. The community also includes experts who are centralized from heritage Malta or outsourced as dictated by the needs. The European Union funds are also part of the stake holders to Heritage Malta and Ggantija.
Other bodies like advisory boards are also recognized as stakeholders. Some organizations who are interested in partnership to promote the tourist destinations as they promote their products are also valuable stakeholders to the Ggantija and Heritage Malta. For instance, “I love food” is interested in combining the Maltese cuisine with the story of culture and the history as a way of promoting their products and the tourist destination (McKercher & Cros, 2002).
4.0 Key Management issues at Ggantija
Cultural heritage has become very significant in Maltese in terms of culture preservation, as a society and the economy as well. Generating revenue is one of the management functions that aim at ensuring the continuity of these tourist destinations. Revenue is generated from admission fees and donations. Other sources also include the money raised through partnerships like “I Love Food” organization which pays a fee to operate its business in the tourist areas. Open days which are organized to promote the history and culture of the people in Ggantija are also a major source of revenue (Fyall, Garrod, & Leask, 2002; Heritage Malta 2008; Hall & McArthur, 1996).
Ggantija obtains most of its revenue from visitor admissions fees. The period between 2004 and 2011 the public cultural heritage sector had a progressive increase in the amount of revenue generated. Of the total revenue generated between 2004 and 2011 2,800,000 Euros were allocated for the purpose of upgrading the tourist areas.
Heritage Malta Admission Fees (2004-2011)
Source; Heritage Malta sources
Expenses are shared between all the sites of heritage Malta. Such expenses include marketing expenses, the amount spent on publicity and media, the experts invited to facilitate open days and annual days and the maintenance costs. The tourist sites often require upgrading and maintenance to ensure that they remain attractive to the visitors. This is a strategy for raising revenue and promoting the continuity of the sites for the future generation (Heritage Malta, 2008).
4.2 Conservation of Sites
The tourist sites have been receiving popularity and the number of visitors has increased tremendously. However, the more the number of visitors, the higher the likelihood of destroying the heritage value of the sites (Cochrane & Tapper, 2006; Leask, & Yeoman, 1999). The paintings and sculptures are conserved in the studio rooms and attention is given to the past restoration techniques to ensure that the original state of the sculptures is maintained. Treatments are carried out through relining of the paintings, consolidating the pictorial layers, removing the worn out layers and retouching them. The treatments are done by the modern conservation standards which are more superior and longer lasting than the traditional ones. Emphases have been put on preventive conservation to ensure that chances of detioration are minimized. This is done through extensive studies on the artifacts and materials used on the archeological sites to establish how they can be conserved. Proper use and storage of artifacts and other collections is encouraged to give these items a longer live. Attention is also given to the textiles, the books and paper as well as the buildings to ensure that they are preserved for the purposes of future use (Heritage Malta, 2008).
4.3 Security Issues
Ggantija is experiencing a challenge when it comes to the issue of security. Controlling the big multitude of visitors has proved to be very difficult and often visitors go beyond the barriers which can be a threat to their safety. The schools premises are not secure either. This is because they can be easily accessed by people mostly the youths and students. This can result into thefts or even destruction of property if not well monitored. Walls are vandalized during visits and tracking this is quite difficult because there are no cameras available. The only means of monitoring the activities in the tourist areas is by physical checks done by the security people. This is quite a challenge because they can not be present in all areas at a go (Drummond & Yeoman, 2001; Heritage Malta 2008).
4.4 Health and Safety
The movement of the people in the tourist areas is not fully guided and there is a risk of falling and hurting their bodies. There is no bank in Malta that is willing to insure the archeological site thus the health and safety of the visitors is not guaranteed. This situation can be solved by coming up with a study to establish the number of people that can be accommodated in each temple at a time. This will ensure that visitors’ safety is improved and they can be controlled while in the temples. This will promote safety and minimize the chances of destruction and misuse of the facilities available (Heritage Malta 2008; Drummond, S et al. 2000).
5.0 Effectiveness of Management Tools
To ensure that the management of heritage tourism sites is effective, a number of factors have bee emphasized in Ggantija. First, customer focus has been used to gain a competitive advantage, product, people, pricing and marketing have been utilized through the use of multi media technology. People interested in visiting the site can find out information from the website and other social sites like Facebook. This gives the site popularity and increases the chances of increasing the number of visitors (Poria, Butler, & Airey, 2004). Offering guided tours has also been a good strategy of engaging the visitors and promoting their learning and enjoyment experience in the tourist destination. This increases the chances of future visits or even attracting more people who love to get a similar experience. There is plenty of information through the libraries and information boards. This promotes a self guided learning in which the visitors can choose their subject of interest and explore further. Brochures were initially used on the information stands but this has been changed, today they are only available on the website. This has ensured waste is limited and visitors can access the brochures at their convenience. The films that are produced at the site and sold to the visitors; this is a good way of promoting publicities. When visitors leave the site, they are likely to influence their friends and relatives to visit the site; this is a good strategy for marketing the products and service offered (Poria, Butler & Airey, 2003; Whitfield, 2009).
Megalithic temple of Gigantija Gozo and Heritage Malta have gained a lot of publicity through their publications including the Heritage Malta magazine. The news letters published inform readers and visitors the activities that are in progress and offer them the new developments that would attract them to visit. It has also established exhibition spaces that give artists an opportunity to promote public awareness, educate the public and give the visitors an opportunity to enjoy the culture and heritage depicted. It is also participating in European Union programs that promote heritage culture and conservation. This is a good strategy that ensures public recognition through the activities it engages in. These strategies promote good international relations and this serves to attract more visitors who in turn increase the revenue generated (Schwer, Gazel, & Daneshvary, 2000; Sigala,& Leslie, 2012 ).
The Malta heritage site management has established a good relationship with the stake holders and this has attracted organizations and individuals to make donations. This promotes the continuity of the site because such donations are used to upgrade and maintain the collections as well as the buildings. Transfers and gifts from other entities have increased the organization’s collection and this has resulted in a wide variety of attractions for the visitors. The staff at Ggantija offer quality services through the friendly guided walks. This gives the visitors a sense of appreciation and they have the will to visit the site once more. Education offered to professionals and youths is a good strategy of maintaining good relationships with the communities and improving the quality of their lives. It’s a good way to give back to the society especially because the organization derives its resources from the surrounding community’s culture and heritage. Partnering with other organizations also promotes good relations (McCain & Nina 2003; Whitfield, 2009).
6.0 Recommendation for Management Improvement
To increase visitor numbers, the management can coordinate the various activities in the sites, it is recommended that an all inclusive source of information be availed (Buckley, 2004). The brochure can include information on the restaurants, the bookshops and libraries, and updates on the present heritage trails. This gives the visitors that the heritage site offers more than they expect and attract them to explore the wide variety of services and products offered. The trends experienced over the recent past suggest that visitors want to experience more than they anticipate. The temples have been there since the 1890s which suggest that past visitors may not be willing to return to experience the same products and services. To ensure that there is always more for the visitors to look forward to, the features and collections can be modified to mimic the currents forms of visitor attraction. For instance, the state of the art site can be transformed into an archeological park. This way the originality of its collections remains while the product becomes new. This is a good strategy to stay ahead of the competitors in the competitive tourism environment (Austin, 2002; Boniface, 2003; Leask & Fyall 2, 2006).
A visitor orientation center is also another strategy that can be introduced to make the visitors experience memorable. They can be aided through the introduction of touchscreens scattered on the whole site through gazebos, audio visuals and barial systems. This way, the visitors can easily get information from these tools without having to enquire from the staff. The available education system only focusses on the youths and professionals who want to advance their skills (Timothy & Boyd, 2003). Children have been overlooked and this may be a potential source of revenue through admissions and education programs. Integrating children ensures that the available resources are well utilized maximally. Security measures can be improved by ensuring that cameras are installed all over the sites to monitor the activities in the tourist areas (Leask, 2010; Shackley, 1998).
The environment in which these heritage sites are built provides a great opportunity for the communities around to offer their cultural and historical resources (Andereck & Vogt, 2000; Leask, A & Fyall, 2006 ). To ensure that these communities cooperate to promote heritage tourism, it is advisable to reduce negative and social impacts. These come as a result of foreign influence and increased populations of visitors. To ensure that this does not affect the communities, the site can introduce a code of conduct that matches the communities’ way of living. This not only reduces the social impact but also promotes the cultural experience (Alonso, O’neill, & Kim, 2010; Timothy, 2011). Meeting and exceeding the visitor expectations has been used by organizations to gain a competitive advantage. To ensure that this is the case in this heritage site, it is advisable that the information provided matches and exceeds the products and services experienced. This can be obtained by continuous staff training on mechanisms of responding to visitor demands. Innovation and customer focus are two principle keys to maintaining good visitor relationships and positive feed back (Hannam & Knox, 2009; Ritchie, & Crouch, 2003).
Heritage tourism is based on the historical, cultural and natural resources that a tourist site possesses. The Megalithic temples are rich in history and culture of the past communities that developed these temples. It provides visitors with an opportunity to experience heritage tourism. The management has employed tools and strategies that have seen the site increase its revenue generation capability and upgrade to meet the current needs of the visitors. However, there is a need for continued innovation that will make the products and services diverse and different from what has been offered over the past. Modifying the available collections to fit the current needs of visitors will attract more visitors and promote the continuation of the site to meet the needs of the future generation. Focusing on visitor needs improves the chances of attaining a place in the inscription as a World Heritage Site.
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