Fabian Demicoli

Tourism Ministry launches Report on Tourism Industry’s Contribution to the Maltese Economy in 2014

Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, with the contribution and participation of social partners involved directly with the tourism sector, launched a Report on Tourism in Malta and its relationship to our economy. The Minister stated that the tourism sector experienced steady growth over the past years with continuous diversification to become one of the fastest growing industries world-wide. Nationally, it has developed into a major contributor towards Malta’s economic growth and therefore a detailed study on the industry’s input to the economy has been commissioned to solidify the cause of success and base the way forward for further growth.

One of the major variables which the report identifies is how the tourism industry in Malta has contributed towards growing employment opportunities. Tourist arrivals reached over 1.7 million in 2014 sustaining 20,500 direct jobs in the sector and an estimated 7,500 which are engaged indirectly. The Minister added that tourism provides one out of every five jobs in Gozo. This report substantiates the importance of having a clear policy for tourism as published through the National Tourism Policy in recent weeks.

GRTU’s Deputy President Philip Fenech, responsible for GRTU’s Leisure and Tourism section, commented on how over the past years our tourism sector has become more accessible to our arrivals potential through ever-increasing linkages to our island. Low-cost airlines showed their mark by encouraging the building up of the independent traveller aside to the already existent tour-operator market. Online sources have also been and important source for growth. In parallel to this, Malta’s business sector has continuously supported the developments to increase receptiveness and potential. The atmosphere for growth has been set and private investment has instilled confidence in tourism growth. It is expected that the public sector should also match the pace with that of the private sector if sustained growth is to be ensured. Infrastructure is one of the areas which remains behind.

Our tourism sector has taken shape from a mainly colonial tourist to a more diversified sector having developed through various niches. This gives a sense of security as the sector departs from resting on only one type of tourist market. These new segments also need to be developed further by tapping into emerging markets every year. The challenge is now how to refine the segments to optimise influx whilst monitoring that one segment does not override other existing or emerging niches.

1.7 million is a large amount for our island which leads to near-saturation point in peak months. However, GRTU’s vision promotes extending focus onto the shoulder months, moving away from the traditional sun-and-sea tourism onto creating other types of tourists, such as the cultural tourist, with cultural events held throughout Malta’s mild winters. Such events need to be created and sustained consistently, plotting them against the international cultural calendar. Conference and incentives travel and wedding tourism are other examples of potential niches that need to be strengthened through the shoulder months.

 

 

 

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