A renewed vision of tourism – Alison Vassallo and Alan Arrigo

Last November, after a period of consultation with a wide range of stakeholders and members directly or indirectly involved in tourism, the Tourism Business Section of the Malta Chamber launched ‘Rediscover’, a renewed vision for the industry. tourism in Malta, which offers more than 125 recommendations.

At the heart of this vision is the sustainability of growth, made possible by three key pillars: improving the customer journey; encourage authentic and quality customer experiences; and build on our capabilities – which are key to transforming the sector in a post-COVID reality and to improving Malta’s offer as a destination of choice in the face of fierce competition from countries in the region.

The underlying principles guiding this vision were adopted by the Malta House Election Manifesto which called for the following political direction:

Redefining Malta’s tourism product – rethinking the tourism product, branding and communications with a greater emphasis on quality experiences and authenticity. The experience in Malta should be presented as true to its own identity and avoid the pitfalls of over-tourism.

Improving and encouraging tourism education – The Maltese are an integral part of Malta’s offer and the service to tourists must reflect this. It is imperative to instill a sense of pride in locals who wish to pursue a career in tourism.

Review the role of the Malta Tourism Authority as an enabler and reposition it as an active regulator – now is the time to restore the MTA to its core function, which has often been seen as an active competitor to the private sector rather than the intended purpose industry regulator that enforces licensing standards and promotes best practices.

The MTA should focus much more on being a facilitator and specialized visibility and promotion agency that builds a unique capability in digital marketing and branding of the country and its offering.

Excess capacity [in tourist bed stock] pressures operators to lower prices and further reduce profitability at a time of skyrocketing costs– Alison Vassallo and Alan Arrigo

Temporary suspension of new tourist accommodation – the increase in the number of tourist beds was already a growing concern in 2019, and excess capacity is expected to increase significantly by 2030, which will put pressure on operators to lower prices and further reduce profitability in an era of skyrocketing costs.

In this context, the Malta Chamber reiterates its call for a more sustainable accommodation model, which requires the temporary suspension of new requests for tourist accommodation.

The Yachting Services business section has focused its efforts on identifying and recognizing the yachting industry as a key segment of luxury tourism. Despite the estimated €100 million it generates for the local economy, excluding tax and flag registration revenue, it is not yet recognized as an integral part of Malta’s tourism offering.

This sector draws on its unrivaled maritime heritage and geographic location, as well as in-depth technical, practical and legal knowledge that fuels its ability to cater to high-end luxury tourism.

The significant breakthroughs made by Malta over the past few years through the combined efforts of the private and public sectors need to be further strengthened through improved infrastructure and investment in human resources in key ministries on which the industry s strongly supports to offer first class services to this most competitive international sector.

Efforts should be made to create incentives and incentives to encourage the arrival of commercial and private yachts to Malta’s shores, whether as a launching pad for cruising around the Mediterranean or as a destination.

It should be borne in mind that the arrival of yachts in Malta generates spillovers of economic activity in the industries directly or indirectly dependent on the sector: supply companies, marinas, refit and repair facilities, ship chandlers, agents , fuel suppliers and contractors, service providers, restaurants, catering establishments and, in the case of owners and charter guests traveling to Malta to board a yacht, hotels.

This vision was adopted in the Malta Chamber election manifesto primarily by identifying yachting as a niche tourism sector that needs to be incentivized. As one of the practical means of achieving this, the Malta Chamber proposes to treat the berthing and visiting of yachts in marinas in Malta in the same way as tourist accommodation insofar as the tourist VAT rate 7% should also apply to berthing services, agency fees, provisioning and preparation fees for yachts embarking on charter.

This must be seen in the wider context of ensuring continued support for all the factors that have made Malta – with its strong legal system, stellar flag and strong range of logistics services – a force to be reckoned with in the yachting sector.

Dr Alison Vassallo is Chair of the Commercial Yachting Services Section of the Malta Chamber. Alan Arrigo is Chairman of the Malta Chamber Tourism Operators Commercial Section.

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