Among the honey-coloured buildings of Valetta’s main street in front of the courthouse is a shrine to Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Maltese journalist murdered on the island last October.
Tourists walking through the Unesco World Heritage city this summer might be surprised to stumble upon the shrine—which includes photos and messages—just outside the court buildings.
Many of the tourists stop and take pictures. Others have been helping rebuild it when it is dismantled at night by people who don’t like visitors to see the memorial.
Daphne’s son Paul says: “It’s just candles, and flowers and pieces of paper; somehow it is just really human.”
It is also, he says, a statement about what is going on in Malta; something that the government would rather tourists not know about.
Perhaps it is not surprising that the Maltese government would like anything that affects its beautiful sunny image to be swept away, as travel and tourism receipts make up 15.1 per cent of the GDP, according to the World Economic Forum.
But as Paul and his family struggle to keep his mother’s story in the international limelight, and to fight for transparency around the continuing court case, he is convinced that tourists having awareness of her murder makes a difference.
It places pressure on the Maltese government “to behave like they are meant to behave.”
Some of the tourists want to go further. At an event at the Hay Festival this summer, Paul found members of the audience who went on holiday to the Mediterranean island keen to talk to him about what they could do to make a difference. He urged them to visit the shrine to show awareness of the case.
In Malta, the smallest state within the European Union, international opinion and EU funding are important as is its reputation as a safe and secure travel destination.
In 2017 it was rated in 31st place for this criteria by the WEF, behind Bhutan, Morocco and Qatar.
Other destinations with a glorious reputation as holiday spots include Mexico and Mauritius—but they both score badly for freedom of expression and human rights indicators.
Mexico is ranked at 113 for safety and security in the same index. It saw around a massive 32 million tourist arrivals…