Ensuring Malta’s Continued Success as a Competitive Tourism Destination

Ensuring Malta’s Continued Success as a Competitive Tourism Destination

Earlier today, Mr Carlo Micallef, Chief Executive Officer of the Malta Tourism Authority delivered the keynote address during a special Tourism Conference organised by The Malta Chamber on the occasion of World Tourism Day as commemorated by the United Nations, with the theme ‘Rediscover’.

During his keynote address Mr Micallef outlined and shared the vision of the Malta Tourism Authority, for the rethinking of Malta and Gozo’s tourism industry – which is a fundamental pillar in the ten-year strategy which the MTA together with the Ministry for Tourism launched towards the end of 2021 – a strategy is also based on the Recovery and Revitalisation pillars.

Rethinking tourism,” Mr Micallef said, “recognises not only that the world continues to change, but that it is changing fast.  Ours today is a world where generations of globalised travellers, accustomed to unrestrained and affordable travel opportunities and to an ever-increasing choice of destinations with competitive offers are facing the pressures and forces of change as our world adapts to new realities.”


Significant Increase in Inbound Tourists

In his speech Mr Micallef also gave an overview of the current situation, highlighting that, while the number of inbound tourist in 2020 and 2021 was below the 1-million mark, obviously due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the numebrs for 2022 are very encouraging and are estimated to reach 2,000,000 by the end of the year, which translates to 77% of the 2019 figures.

Moreover, Mr Micallef added that the Air Seat Capacity is back to 78% of pre-pandemic levels (in January to August), with 18 countries standing close to, or even exceeding pre-pandemic capacity levels. These include Poland (where the MTA will be formally opening its new office in the coming weeks); France; Bulgaria; Italy; and, The Netherlands.

Taking into consideration 2022, from January to July, Malta’s biggest source markets include the United Kingdom (221,108 – 62% of 2019); Italy (190,945 – 88% of 2019); France (137,294 – 106% of 2019); Germany (87,454 – 74% of 2019); and Poland (78,190 – 132% of 2019).

Mr Carlo Micallef stated that the Authority’s Recover/Rethink/Revitalise Strategy makes it clear at the outset that the three-pronged approach to creating a stronger and more competitive tourism industry for the Maltese Islands is one which is being carried out in an overlapping rather than a sequential approach, adding that “we have focused on recovery but have already started our rethinking and the revitalisation will start to take place as the rethinking process progresses.  In all of this, we need to work together and with a common vision, to be able to surpass the challenges that lie before us.”

Mr Micallef said that Malta’s tourism sector is currently operating in highly competitive times in situations where receptive capacity is expanding at rates which are outpacing demand and where sustainability pressures pit all forms of economic activity against the higher ideals of protected recreational space and the wellbeing arising for a growing need for an improved work-life balance.  There are also domestic challenges, which are compounded by a complex world in which “we face competitors not constrained by many of the limitations we face, including size, density, lack of resources, import-dependence, distance from source markets, insularity, dependence on aviation and the highly regulated European operational framework which some of our larger Mediterranean competitors find themselves exempted from.”

Despite facing many challenges, Mr Micallef said that the successes should not be disregarded. “We have not only grown our tourism numbers, but we have widened our season, diversified our geographic source markets, expanded our age demographic and tapped into an expanding range of motivational reasons why tourists visit Malta and Gozo,” he said.

Looking to the coming months, Mr Micallef announced that the latest available data collected from airline websites, indicates that “air seat capacity for the coming winter season is at 91% of pre-pandemic levels,” with the estimated number of inbound tourists being 1,240,000 for November – March, both months included.

On concluding, Mr Micallef reiterated that Malta and Gozo continue to possess the right mix of ingredients to sustain its future as a relevant and successful tourism destination, further adding that “this is what gives us the confidence to look at the future with hope and optimism.  The last two years have not only convinced everyone of the importance and relevance of tourism but they have also raised awareness on how important it is to place rethinking and revitalising topmost in our modus operandi.” He encouraged those present to continue working together for the common cause of building a tourism industry that will keep serving the country well in the years to come