For countries around the world, there is always a strong factor or niche which in helps keeping their economy robust. Just like the Middle East survives on its oil reserves, the small Island economy of Malta gets a large share of revenues from the tourism industry. For decades, Malta has been working hard on creating a sustainable tourism economy and these efforts have received a much needed push after Konrad Mizzi took up the post of Tourism Minister of the country in June 2017.
From the beginning, Mizzi made it clear that he was going to further Prime Minister and Labour Party government’s initiatives to ‘revive’ Malta’s tourism industry. The incumbent government in Malta has shown a strong resolve in this area and has continuously injected large sums of money for restructuring and rebuilding of the entire tourism sector. The idea is clearly to ensure that more and more people start visiting Malta which in turn will increase business opportunities for the Maltese population.
In his first official meeting after becoming the Tourism Minister, Mizzi was greeted with positive numbers which showed that the tourism industry in Malta was on the right track already. During the meeting, results Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association Survey by Deloitte show were presented which stated that the tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2017 had increased by 27 percent. The promising numbers were welcomed by Mizzi as he acknowledged the efforts of his predecessor Edward Zammit Lewis and vowed to continue working in the same direction.
Tourism Growth in Malta since 2015
According to reports, the tourist expenditure in Malta increased from 1.3 billion euros in 2013 to 1.7 billion in 2016. This exponential growth is the proof of all the hard work that has been put in. Out of the total people employed in the industry, 65 percent are Maltese and the rest are outsiders.
2016 was also a year of landmark achievement for the Maltese tourism industry as the number of tourists visiting this small country touched 2 million for the first time. This increase can be attributed to a number of measures adopted by the Maltese government to diversify the tourism industry. Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi has given an unequivocal support to this initiative and has taken more steps to improve the situation.
“Put simply, what previous administrations achieved within a span of 20 years, that is a growth of half-a-million tourist arrivals, a Labour-led Administration achieved in a mere four. We kept breaking our own tourism record year after year, reaching another milestone in 2016 with two million tourists arrivals also thanks, among others, to our efforts aimed at creating the best and most encouraging overall conditions for the industry to invest consistently and wisely,” former Maltese tourism minister wrote in Malta Independent in March 2016.
Source: Travel and Tourism Impact Report 2018 (World Travel and Tourism Council)
Konrad Mizzi adds to the efforts
As the baton was passed to Mizzi, he knew there would be a large number of challenges as well to deal with. One of the biggest challenges for him was to work towards increasing the revenues generated by Air Malta. The airline service has been facing rough waters for several decades and within his short tenure, Mizzi took it upon himself to change this situation.
As part of the diversification initiative, Mizzi took the decision of increasing the number of flights to Israel. “Air Malta has decided to provide capacity for such expansion by operating 5 direct flights to Tel Aviv in summer and 3 flights in winter. The airline is currently setting up its promotional and sales channels in Israel. This is in line with Air Malta’s Mediterranean strategy,” Mizzi had said in his statement to Lovin Malta.
This step would mean that Malta might attract more tourists from Israel by showcasing its Jewish history. Also, the increased amount of flights would mean more business for Air Malta. During his visit to Israel, Mizzi also announced that a sales distribution network will also be founded by Air Malta which will ensure the presence of sales agents and promotions all over Israel.
If these efforts fructify, the number of tourists coming from Israel to Malta can go up exponentially. This initiative was just one among many others taken by Mizzi for the restructuring of Air Malta to make it more profitable. Mizzi faced criticism after the government decided to call off negotiations with AirItalia for a possible partnership. One of his initial decisions after becoming the Tourism Minister was to announce that Air Malta would seek a strategic partner only after it becomes financially strong.
To bring home the point, Mizzi also threatened to close down the airline if the Air Malta workers kept resisting the change efforts. Former Tourism Minister also came in support of Mizzi and said that his efforts were necessary for the survival of the airline. “I am confident we can work with union of cabin crew, pilots, GWU and if we agree that we need to grow we will have a bright future,” Mizzi said in June 2017 while he spoke in the Parliament and introduced his plans to improve the tourism industry.
Estimates show that the direct contribution of tourism to Malta’s GDP was close to 14.2 percent and is set to increase 2.5 percent in 2018. World Travel and Tourism Council report also suggests that the contribution of tourism to GDP is set to increase at a rate of 4.3 percent per annum from 2018 to 2028. This shows how crucial the tourism industry is for Maltese economy and that the current efforts by minister Konrad Mizzi and the Maltese government will ensure a long term growth of the country.