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Malta Goes Rural

The MaltaGoesRural project seeks to promote the Maltese rural heritage through the set up of walking trails and small scale infrastructural interventions with the main aim to improve accessibility in semi-rural, rural and natural areas. Targeted at the relational tourist and locals, the project activities seek to identify the pull factors that can strengthen the rural tourism product in Malta.

The MaltaGoesRural project is made up a number of walking routes together with small scale embellishment projects in Malta that are considered to have rural potential, in order to build a stronger and more competitive rural tourism offer. The routes identified and the trails set up will pass through rural areas and will focus on the natural areas, scenic spots, village cores, heritage sites and valuable elements of Malta’s tangible and intangible heritage.

The MTA is currently working on four embellishment projects as part of the MaltaGoesRural project.

1. Embellishment at il-Maqluba, Qrendi

This main aim was to embellish the square in front of the historic St. Matthew’s Chapel; being an important wayside chapel frequented by tourists for its legendary association with the adjacent natural sinkhole. The chapel lacked an organised setting with the vast stretch of open space used solely for informal parking and recreation. The scope of the project is to pave the square with appropriate hard stone paving to complement the chapel, Futhermore, the introduction of additional soft landscaping, informal seating and the installation of additional street furniture will further complement the chapel and the access to the tal-Maqluba sinkhole. To compliment this intervention, the existing dangerous yet sought-after look-out point of the sinkhole situated further down the valley will be equipped with appropriate railings.

2. Embellishment and upgrading of Gnien il-Gibjun l/o Zurrieq

The works carried out at Gnien il-Gibjun, can be divided into mainly construction works and the upgrading of facilities. The construction works carried out involve, realigning passage walls and the laying of both hard stone coping and of new paving blocks over the existing concrete ground slab in the passages. In addition a reservoir was constructed to improve the garden’s irrigation and ramps were constructed to improve accessibility fpr persons with a disability. As part of the upgrading to this popular area, new garden furniture has been installed; the playing field upgraded with new playing equipment and the existing soft paving was replaced. The installation of a new lighting system and a water featu re rounded off project. To improve the existing belvederes, boards interpreting the view from the garden were installed at vantage points and on the main belvedere overlooking views that stretch out as far as Rabat & Valletta. These will enhance the visitors’ experience to these gardens. The project also takes into consideration the need to improve security in the garden and this will be achieved through the installation of CCTV cameras.

3. Embellishment at Misrah Hlantun, Zurrieq

The project of Misrah Hlantun is aimed at the embellishment of this open space that was once a focal point in the life of the local farmers cultivating the nearby agricultural land. To achieve this aim various trees will be planted to create rest areas where visitors can sit down on the newly installed benches and appreciate the surrounding atmosphere and pristine beauty of the Maltese countryside. The project will also screen an existing borehole in the middle of this open space to make it resemble a typical Maltese Girna, create a low level water feature adjacent to the borehole and lay grass blocks in existing passages used by cars. The grass blocks will be replacing the uneven ground and give a more orderly look to this area that is at present dilapidated and prone to dumping.

4. Embellishment at Tal-Providenza Chapel, Siggiewi

The main aim of this project was to embellish the surroundings of the square in front of the Providenza Chapel together with the square itself. Being perhaps one of the finest examples of wayside chapels, the Providenza chapel deserved a much better visual setting than it possessed. The square was paved with appropriate hard stone paving in order to complement the chapel and the existing poorly-asphalted road leading to the square was re-paved with grass blocks. The adjoining rubble boundary walls were restored, and benches and similar appropriate street furniture put in place to further enhance this space.

Project Value: € 256,430 of which €159,250 are EU Funded. 

5. Marketing

Another important aspect of the MaltaGoesRural project, is the marketing of Malta as a rural destination and to this end, the MTA is investing around €130,000 for this purpose. Given that rural tourism is a niche market, advertising in specialised publications is considered to be a potential and effective way forward. These kind of publications are considered to have high relevance to the local rural tourism offer. Through the MaltaGoesRural Project a number of articles (information inserts) are being made in a number of specialised publications such as ‘Walk’ the official magazine of the Ramblers’ Association, National Geographical ‘Traveller’, ‘Outdoor Enthusiast’ and ‘Country Walking Magazine’.

In addition, a generic brochure was produced as part of this project: http://issuu.com/maltagoesrural/docs/rural_malta

6. Signage

The project will also focus on the installation of informational and directional signage at various sites. Signs at the start of each walk will give the rambler an idea of the walk he will follow. Along the route directional signs will help ramblers throughout the walk. Interpretation panels will also be installed near hotspots of cultural and historical interest. The MTA is also working with a number of local councils in order to install interpretation panels in front of other areas of historical / cultural interest which might not be along the walk. The idea is to help make these villages more accessible through the provision of information. Thus ramblers wishing to adventure along the roads of rural villages will have the opportunity to get more info on these places.

The MTA is currently implementing this project which is co-financed by the European Union under the EAFRD.

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