The writer's viewpoint: interview with Jo Caruana, updater of the new edition of Insight Guide Malta

A view of Valletta and the Carmelite Church dome, (photo by Sylvaine Poitau)
A view of Valletta and the Carmelite Church dome

What made you decide to become a travel writer?

I grew up travelling the world with my family. They ran a travel company, which meant that there was always some exciting place that we had to discover, from Italy and Belgium, to Thailand and Kenya. At the same time, I have always loved writing and knew that I wanted to use it in my career somehow. When I eventually based myself in Malta, travel writing became a natural progression. I now write about Malta for publications all over the world, as well as about other destinations for the many magazines based on the island or in the Mediterranean region.

What do you most like about the Insight Guides as a travel aid?

They're packed full of really useful information, compiled by people on the ground. The layout of the guides makes it really easy to dip in and out of, while, at the same time, there are beautifully written in-depth features to read that offer truly enlightening information on a destination.

Why did you decide to move to Malta?

After graduating with a writing degree from the UK, I did wonder where to head to next. I’d spent lots of time in Malta growing up, and my family was based there now, so it made perfect sense. I’ve now been here since 2006 and I’m still happy with my decision. Travelling away from the islands is vital, so I tend to get back to the UK or elsewhere every two months or so – and Malta works fantastically as a stepping-stone to all kinds of places. Life on the islands is good, with a great cultural scene and plenty of sunshine. Right now I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

How did the Libyan crisis affect tourism in Malta?

As the news broke of what was going on in Libya, Malta was instantly affected. For starters, we were suddenly overrun by international journalists clambering to get as close to the action as possible. Meanwhile, we became a safe-haven for evacuees from all over the world, and Malta really stepped up to help in any way it could. Nevertheless, our airport became a hotbed of nervous activity, and no one quite knew what would happen next.

Thankfully, focus shifted away from the islands pretty quickly, but not before a substantial number of people cancelled their holidays here. After all, although we are firmly within the EU, our proximity to Libya cannot be ignored. The illegal immigration of refugees has continued to put pressure on Malta, but a system is now in place to cope with that. I’d say that the local travel industry is now firmly back on track.

If you had an infinite budget, which country in the world would you visit and why?

My current wish list is never-ending, but it is topped by New Zealand. I’m quite a nature-loving gal, so the chance to get up close and personal with all incredible wildlife there is very exciting. On an infinite budget, I would combine it with a really top-notch cruise – I know they can be commercial, but they’re also a really great way to completely shut off from the world!

Read about Malta in our Destinations pages...

Buy the new edition of Insight Guide Malta

Insight Guide Malta

Insight Guide Malta offers a unique approach to getting the most out of one of Europe's most fascinating destinations.

Engaging History and Culture chapters explain the island's intriguing past as a gateway between Europe and the Arab world, and the factors influencing its future - from ancient temples to the impact of joining the Eurozone. The burgeoning arts scene, architectural treasures, local cuisine and folklore are fully explored as contributors to the island's culture and character.

Colourful, magazine-style features focus on what makes Malta unique - the impressive archaeology, the legacy of the Knights of St John and British rule, and the exuberant festivals that take place every summer. Malta is also now one of the world's foremost diving destinations and this guide investigates the fantastic range of diving opportunities available on the islands.

The Places chapters cover Malta and Gozo in detail and suggest excursions to the surrounding islands. Full-colour photographs throughout give a true flavour of contemporary life on the islands. Detailed maps plot all major sights, and the Travel Tips offer selective listings for the best places to stay and eat, and where to take part in outdoor activities.

Click here to buy the new edition of Insight Guide Malta, or view any of our other Malta guide books.