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Published on : Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Top European football teams PSV Eindhoven and Legia Warsaw have recently concluded their mid-season overseas training camps in Malta. These two teams, which are regular participants in European Cup competitions, had successful training camps in Malta, complimented with fantastic weather and the professional sports facilities.
The Maltese Islands received great exposure from the presence of these two clubs, as both teams posted on club social media on a regular basis during their stay, with the international media also providing good coverage of the training camps. The Malta Tourism Authority is particularly pleased to have been associated with this project as it is a very important development for the declared strategy to increase business to our Islands in the leanest months of the year. The MTA agreed to provide the necessary support for this project as it is considered as a great opportunity to showcase the Maltese Islands on an international scale through co-branding with famous successful football teams.
The MTA believes that sports tourism is an important niche market, as most of the International Sports Events that take place in Malta do so during the shoulder and winter months, and therefore they have the potential to generate incremental business for Malta and Gozo when it is mostly needed. In total, throughout last year around 14,000 visitors came to Malta specifically to participate in sports related events. Such events amongst others include the Rolex Middle Sea Race, the Vodafone Malta Marathon, Xterra Malta Triathlon, Mdina Grand Prix, the Tour ta’ Malta amongst others. Over the past few years, the Malta Tourism Authority, together with the Government, various sports associations, sports enthusiasts and the private sector, have implemented a number of initiatives to increase the number of visitors, be it individuals or teams, which visit the Maltese Islands in order to take part in a variety of sports disciplines.
All initiatives are aimed in enhancing Product Malta as our Islands have been successful to date in attracting a myriad of such visitors. Foreign sporting participants can blend their love of sports with a large array of historical and cultural sites around the Islands. In fact, a considerable number of fans chose to follow their team to the Maltese Islands during the training camps and amongst other activities they were also able to take advantage of our favourable weather. Sports tourism does not only help make our sporting facilities more economically sustainable, but have a spill over effect on hoteliers, the Food and beverage Industry and places of entertainment.
Malta offers very good sporting facilities such as training grounds and FIFA recommended pitches managed by the Malta Football Association and a wide choice of accommodation to suit all pockets. Both PSV Eindhoven and Legia Warsaw provided great exposure of the Maltese Islands through the various photos, videos and articles which they posted, which even made it to their respective national media, therefore providing the Islands with extended coverage and reach. PSV updated their fans regularly through a number of posts on social media as well as their official website. These posts focused mainly on the PSV players training and enjoying themselves in Malta. PSV’s game against Hibernians FC was streamed live online. Legia Warsaw also posted regularly on their website as well as their facebook page. Legia mainly posted videos and photos of the players training, using the hotel facilities as well as the surrounding areas of their accommodation. The posts by Legia Warsaw have been very positive for the Maltese Islands, as thousands of people have viewed them, with some posts reaching almost one hundred thousand views.
MTA CEO Mr Paul Bugeja said that “we are extremely pleased that we were able to attract football teams of the stature of PSV Eindhoven and Legia Warsaw to the Maltese Islands for their winter training camp, particularly as PSV are in the last 16 of the Champions League and Legia Warsaw made it to the group stage of the Europa League. With their constant and popular social media updates, the Maltese Islands received massive exposure and Malta’s reputation in this field has surely been enhanced”. Mr Bugeja added that “for the period January till November 2015, both the Dutch and Polish incoming markets improved when compared to the same period in 2014. The Dutch market has yielded positive results once again, while the Polish market grew by an impressive 32.6%, which is equivalent to almost 11,000 travellers more than the previous year. We are pleased with these figures, and we will strive to increase these figures even further, through various new marketing initiatives”.