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Tourism worker of the year – Gozo 2008 Award

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Mr Sammy Rapa receiving the 'Tourism worker of the year - Gozo 2008' awardThe Gozo Tourism Association (GTA) conferred the first ‘Tourism worker of the year – Gozo 2008’ award during a special evening organized for the occasion. It is envisaged that this award will become established in the GTA’s annual calendar of events.

The first winner of this title was announced by Chief Justice Dr V. Caruana Colombo LLD, chairman of the selection board which was especially set up for this purpose. After reading out the details of the jury report, Dr Caruana Colombo announced that, the winner amongst eleven nominees was Mr Sammy Rapa, General Manager of a distinguished hotel in Gozo, who throughout his career always worked in established hotels on the island. In fact, the main aim behind the establishment of the ‘Tourism Worker of the Year – Gozo award’ was that of giving due recognition to the service and dedication given by the employees in this sector. It is also intended, that through this award more Gozitan youths will appreciate the value of this sector for Gozo and the job opportunities it offers.

The evening was conducted by popular presenter Charles Saliba whilst the Gozitan choir Chorus Urbanus, interpreted several musical pieces under the direction of Mro. John Galea. Mr. Paul Scicluna, GTA President explained how this association represents both the entrepreneurs and all those working within the Gozitan tourism industry. He said that this award augurs that those forming part of both of these categories will continue to work together for the benefit of this sector. Mr Scicluna also announced that the GTA council unanimously agreed to appoint Mr Victor J. Borg as Honorary President of the Association. Mr Borg is a distinguished entrepreneur and has been operating in the Gozo touristic sector for several years.

Mr. Joe Muscat, GTA Secretary referred to the fact that the award does not only signify the awarding of a prize to a particular worker who distinguishes himself amongst the others, but it is also an occasion which acknowledges the value of the human resources within this sector. He described the participation of Gozitan workers in this field as valid and necessary, which can also contribute to overcome the strict competition that continuously challenges the tourism industry in Gozo.

In his address, Mr Josef Formosa Gauci, CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority, emphasised that the role of this Authority is not only that of promoting the Maltese and Gozitan tourism sector, but also encompasses the responsibility of the human resources in the sector. He explained the function of the human resources section within the MTA and its role in organizing courses and schemes in order to improve the skills and promote good service amongst those working in the tourism industry.

The Minister for Gozo, Giovanna Debono, presided over the event and presented the winner with a trophy. She praised this initiative taken by the GTA describing it as another initiative in a series of endeavours carried out by this Association in Gozo. Minister for Gozo said that the merit of the initiative taken by her Ministry ten years ago, which led to the establishment of the GTA, can be better appreciated today. Through continuous collaboration, Gozo has been recognized as a distinct destination with unique characteristics. This resulted in a significant improvement within the tourism sector, and apart from the increase in the number of foreign tourists, the domestic market has also become established.

This market substantiates the tourism industry in Gozo, especially during the lean months. Whilst congratulating Mr Rapa, Minister Giovanna Debono also augured that more Gozitan youths will be enticed to follow a career in the tourism sector, through the courses held at the Institute for Tourism Studies, which was built in Gozo following a suggestion by the GTA, and which was co-financed through European funds. Several Gozitan students have been attending courses at this centre during these last months.

Mr Sammy Rapa, the first awardee of this title, explained how he had started a career in tourism upon the advice given by his school headmaster. He augured that more Gozitan students would be given similar advice in their respective schools, as this will ascertain that tourism industry in Gozo will continue to offer the authentic Gozitan service.

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