Fabian Demicoli

Facilitating Tourism to the Mediterranean


GRTU Deputy
President Philip Fenech attended last week a high level meeting that discussed
how we can facilitate tourism to the Mediterranean, specifically through the EU
visa policy. It is estimated that 21% of potential tourists refrain from going
to the EU because of visa requirements. 

For Mediterranean Member States tourism is very important. The Mediterranean
is the world's most visited region with one third of international arrivals
opting for destinations within this region. 22% of global international
arrivals choose one of the nine EU Mediterranean Member States who have met
here today.

Yet
there is still the objective for increased flows through facilitating visa
procedures whilst ensuring security. Aware of the growing importance of tourism
for Europe, including tourism from third countries, the European Commission
examined the policy on visas and external border crossings, carried out intense
consultation and very recently issued a proposal for a revised visa code and a
touring visa with a view to facilitating tourism flows. This dossier is
certainly an important one for Malta, and for the other Mediterranean EU Member
States, for security reasons but also in view of the importance to tourism for
our economy and its potential to contribute to facilitating tourism flows to
our Mediterranean countries.

In terms
of tourism performance, we have had a series of successful years due to the
policy and strategy Malta is adopting, ensuring accessibility and seat
capacity, tapping all distribution channels, working with tour operators,
strengthening our tourism product and supporting and working with tourism
operators and other stakeholders. In 2013, 1.58 million international tourists
visited Malta. About 4% of these were generated from source markets requiring a
visa, including China, Ukraine and Russia – markets which certainly offer
greater potential for us in Malta but certainly also for all other
Mediterranean EU Member States for who tourism acts as an economic pillar. As a
government we want to strengthen our promotional efforts in these source
markets, efforts which need to be complemented by a supporting visa policy.

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