The night the stars came out
captain, Fernandes II (Captain Morgan)
"I didn't know that the awards existed and I thought it was a prank when I got the phone call informing me that I had won.
"It is very satisfying to know that we were nominated for the award by so many of our guests.
"What is the secret of our success? There is only one secret: Teamwork, and that is not just a philosophy but a way of life. I have the best crew you can imagine.
This is my 5th season with the boat - and its 8th season. I was 57 recently, which means I have been sailing for 58 years!"
head waiter, Sottovoce - Marsascala
"I cannot believe that I was nominated again! I still haven't managed to take the holiday that I won last year...
"We have been too busy. This year I really hope to be able to get away, perhaps to Slovakia or Portugal.
"But I will go as Malta's ambassador, rather than as a tourist. I want to persuade people to come here.
"It will be difficult for the outlets in Marsascala now that the Jerma Palace has shut down. It means that we will have to work even harder and give our guests an even better experience so that they come back!"
front office, 115, The Strand, Sliema
"To me, people are not room numbers! I try to give them a service and help them out. The hotel has 87 guests - relatively small - so it feels very friendly. I have been here 12 years and we get many repeat guests who are really pleased to be welcomed back by a familiar face.
"I speak English, Italian and Arabic and started a bit of German but only learned a few words. We have a lot of Scandinavians but I don't think I will manage that! Luckily we have a lot of English-language students who want to speak English! I know I won the award but we all won, all of us here."
mini-coach driver, Zarb Coaches
"Because I drive a Mercedes mini-coach, I do a lot of corporate work as well as normal tourists.
"I also get a lot of work for the film companies and had Steven Spielberg and Roger Moore. I treat them like everyone else - because they are normal people.
"I think it is the people around them who get wound up! I have worked as a driver with Zarb for five of my 37 years in this line.
"The key is to smile and be happy, even if you are at the airport at 3 a.m. and the flight has been delayed by an hour!
"I always try to give them the information that they want to hear, making it clear that it is sometimes my opinion. But I believe that a happy visitor is one who comes back."
lounge bar staff, Hotel Cavalieri
"I have worked with tourists since I was 14 and have been here for the past three years. I only do this part-time as I am looking forward to retiring in two years' time.
"Drinks are the same in every bar; what makes the difference is whether you are willing to go one step further. Our clients are elderly people - we have 90-year-olds - who really appreciate being treated with respect.
"Some of the younger staff don't realise how patient you have to be with them. You have to be prepared to talk to them, to help them. I often stay on after work to chat to them."
"Second time! I wish I could pass on some of my ideas to the authorities. They promised to organise a meeting but it never happened.
"I am on site all the time, I know what could be improved, much more than someone behind a desk would! Let's see what happens. Perhaps they will call me in this year.
"I do various bus routes but I believe that tourists need more information. It is not enough to just tell them what number a route is.
"I am 60 now but I have no intention of retiring. My father is 87 and he is still going strong!"
diving instructor, Paradise Diving School
"I was working the night shift stacking shelves in a supermarket in 1991 and went diving for the first time in Tenerife. Well, I immediately decided that this was the life for me.
"I eventually came to Malta and have been working for this school for eight years. I am an IDC staff instructor, which means I have gone through seven levels of training. I deal with all ages, all skill levels, all nationalities so the job needs patience and good communication skills.
"I love working with the beginners as it is wonderful to see them turn from novices to divers who love the sport as much as I do!"
taxi-driver, Belmont Garage
Note: Mr Camilleri hung up when the reporter identified herself, having thought that she was trying to sell advertising. When she called again, he refused to talk to her and hung up.
travel representative, SMS Travel and Tourism
"I love this work as you are not stuck in a routine and you are always meeting people. I want tourists to have a good time so that they will go back home and encourage others to come here.
"It is not easy as you have to be available all the time. I was once on the beach with friends and was called in. I packed up and went; what can you do?
Last night I was at the airport till 1.30 a.m. and then back there again at 8 a.m. this morning. You have to be flexible. Luckily I am rarely in a bad mood!
"I studied Italian and French and I am thinking about trying to learn another language."
Maria Pia Cumbo
freelance tourist guide
"I originally went to the Institute of Tourism Studies planning to do management but I really liked the idea of becoming a tourist guide. I have now been doing this work for seven years and I still love it. It is great to meet people and I love to be able to boast about how wonderful my country is.
"I haven't travelled very much yet but I realise how unique our temples are. I guess this is why I was nominated: My love for my country really comes through.
"I guide in English and Italian but since I work with a lot of Greek clients, I am trying to learn Greek too. And I read all the time to learn more about the island. I have a really comprehensive library at home."
"I have been a karozzin driver since for the last 30 years. I made the cab myself - except for the wheels and chassis! I put a lot of work into it. I tried to stop working but with eight children and 20 grandchildren it gets too noisy at home so I work when I feel like, for as long as I feel like. I am 60 now but I cannot imagine myself not working at all.
"Look, I have a laminated poster with the map of Valletta on one side and all the other places of interest in Malta on the idea. I cut them all out and stuck them onto a piece of cardboard.
"When I meet a tourist I also shake their hand to make them feel welcome, then I tell them how beautiful Malta is and how friendly the Maltese are. I believe in charging them a reasonable amount. Not everyone can afford more and it is not fair to be rude to them if they do not want to pay a high price. I charge less but I often get a generous tip. One woman took my name to recommend me to her friends when they came here."
owner, Mgarr Tourist Services
"My family had a shop near the ferry terminal for 25 years but had to move to make way for the new project.
"At the moment I am operating from a booth near the quay. It has meant a lot of dust and I cannot keep too much in stock as the security is not that good.
"I am now waiting to be allocated a unit in the new project - which is really nice now that it is nearly finished. I cannot wait to get in there to do it up and get on with things.
"I treat all the tourists as friends and many of them look me up year after year because we do become friends. I am an excursion organiser and sell souvenirs but they all know that they can get a lot of information from me. They even ask me if there are jellyfish in Comino!"
A total of 13 people were awarded by the Malta Tourism Authority for their service for 2006, based on 3,600 nominations from tourists. The awards were given out during a gala event. The Special Thanks and Recognition Scheme (STAR) winners received a certificate, an 18-carat gold lapel pin and Lm500 in cash. The STAR award was also given for quality tourism products as follows: Best festa stall - Beehive; best fixed kiosk (non-catering) - La Gelateria Tanti, Mdina; best tourist shop - Roman Villa Centre; Best well-kept public convenience - Howard Gardens, Mdina; Most attractive village/town square - Pjazza San Gwann Battista, Xewkija. Carol Galea also won an award but was not available for comment. The STAR awards were introduced in 2005. Nominations are currently being collected for the 2007 awards. Further information may be obtained from the MTA's quality assurance unit on tel. 2291 5272 or [email protected].