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Connecting fishing and tourism practices using digital tools: a case study of Marsaxlokk, Malta

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"Connecting fishing and tourism practices using digital tools: a case study of Marsaxlokk, Malta".

Coastal and maritime cultural heritage (CMCH), such as fishing-related activities, seafood and historical buildings along the seafront, is important for connecting and understanding the identity of communities and places linked to the sea. At the same time, CMCH is a key resource for developing tourism in coastal destinations. In tourism development, CMCH is often used and transformed for the benefit of the visitor experience rather than the well-being of the community. Moreover, fishing and tourism practices involved in tourists’ experiences are becoming less integrated in the local community. In this paper, we explore the opportunities that digital tools provide for including fishing communities in the provision of meaningful experiences for tourists. We ask how digital tools can be used to connect fishing and tourism practices. The study is set in Marsaxlokk, a fishing village in the south-east of Malta. An action-research approach is applied to study the use of the storytelling platform izi.TRAVEL as a participatory tool that enables representatives of the fishing community to cocreate and develop heritage tourism experiences based on their CMCH resources. Informed by social practices theory we evaluate how a fishing community can be become more connected to tourism activities and development and discuss the usefulness of the social practices lens to unfold tourism and cultural heritage dynamics. We conclude that digital tools hold both opportunities to raise awareness toward inclusive and sustainable tourism and cultural heritage conservation as well as challenges related to management and digital competences.

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