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Malta National Aquarium

There are approximately 254 National & regional aquariums worldwide. In the past 24 years the development of the Underwater World concept has rendered traditional methods of viewing marine life obsolete.  The Underwater World utilizes a horizontally-curved acrylic tunnel which takes visitors beneath the waters of a massive aquarium.  The aquarium environment is modelled on local marine conditions and provides a unique combination of educational and entertainment facilities.  With the public’s growing awareness of conservation issues, the education aspect of the Underwater World is of increasing importance.

The success of the concept is illustrated by the performance of Underwater World built in Auckland, New Zealand.  Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World became New Zealand’s number one tourist attraction in its first year of operation, attracting over 750,000 visitors.  The project was officially credited by the Government with extending the average length of stay of visitors to Auckland from 1.8 to 2.8 nights.  In the United States, over twenty two cities plan to expand aquariums or build new ones.  In Asia and Australia, many major aquariums have been completed in the past ten years, with several more under development. An economic study determined that the National Aquarium in Baltimore USA, has become Maryland’s leading tourist attraction, contributing US$ 88 million dollars annually to the state’s economy and adding nearly three thousand new jobs.  The Monterey Bay Aquarium in California attracted 2.4 million visitors in 1985, its first year of operation.

The declining interest in traditional amusement and theme parks is illustrative of a shift away from youth-oriented leisure and amusement parks to an experience which is both educational and entertaining.  The success and growing popularity of aquariums in major cities around the world provides further evidence of these trends.

The Malta National Aquarium on the other has been on the cards for many years, works on site started in October 2011 and is now open to the general public.

The entire project is spread over approximately 20,000 square meters comprising of a public aquarium, a public garden at promenade level, a car park, facilities for local dive schools, catering facilities including a reef club, a merchandise outlet and a tourist information kiosk.

The public aquarium has more than 26 display tanks with, amongst others, Mediterranean fish, commonly found in Maltese waters together with replicas of historical artefacts that one can find in the seas around us. The main tank of the aquarium houses species from the Indian Ocean, including two shark species. The main tank is approximately 12 meters in diameter. Visitors are able to go through a water tunnel thereby experiencing the fish at a much closer range. All tanks have been expertly themed to replicate the underwater environment. Additional features of the public aquarium include a class room facility, interpretation, touch pools, a temporary exhibition space, veterinary and quarantine facilities.

The national aquarium is housed in an underground building located under the promenade level.  However, its entrance facilities is housed in an iconic curved shell structure in the form of a starfish.   The promenade of Qawra along the project has been extended and incorporated in the entire project. Apart from new walkways and seating areas, there is a children’s play area and a landscaped garden which is accessible to the general public at no charge.

A Retail Shop forms part of the aquarium experience and is positioned close to the  exit from the aquarium which allows people to purchase different souvenirs that are branded specifically for the aquarium. A Food & Beverage Outlet is also housed inside the aquarium grounds including a Reef Club Grill,  Pizzeria/Trattoria,  Coffee shop and Promenade Kiosk including the Cafe Del Mar Beach Club.  There is also be a non-profit diving institute which serves as a learning centre for the general public and as a facility for the diving community. This will undoubtedly help build more awareness on the Mediterranean underwater sea life environment and that of the Maltese islands.

The Aquarium visitors attraction in Qawra is an EU Co-funded project.

Malta National Aquarium

National Aquarium Qawra Malta

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