Published on : Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Gulia described the successes and challenges for yet another peak season of tourism. The MTA is currently carrying out various studies for development of tourism in Malta.
Gulia said, “We are looking at Xemxija Bay. Obviously, the MTA will not handle the project itself – it’s not something within its remit; big infrastructural projects need finance approved by the Finance Ministry or from EU funds. We are having discussions with the Finance Ministry and we also have to talk to the Infrastructure Ministry. In the meantime, we are carrying out studies as we have to assess what the impact on traffic will be. The area is already quite busy, especially on Sunday afternoons, with traffic coming from Gozo. A project such as this would generate more traffic and will require collaboration with the Transport Authority. The MTA must have discussions with the environmental agencies and the planning authorities, but we are looking at it seriously. I wouldn’t say it’s in a conceptual phase: it’s quite advanced, but we haven’t started because firstly we have to conclude our studies.”
When asked about which areas the MTA have earmarked, Gulia said that it is too early to say, but he hinted that the MTA is “looking at the south”.
Gulia explained that the record two million tourists who visited Malta in 2016 was actually the target for 2017, and the authorities are forecasting around 2.3 million tourists next year.
Over the past two years, a lot of incidents are taking place in countries such as Egypt and Tunis, as well as terrorist attacks across Europe, and this perhaps prompting more people to visit Malta, since it is seen as a safe country.
Sharm el-Sheikh was a once very popular tourist resort in Egypt; however, attacks – coupled with a Russian jet-liner being gunned down have seen tourists disappear.
Gulia added, “Tunis, for example, is comparable to Malta in terms of climate. It is still a different model, however, because it is considered a low-cost destination. The tourists going there do so because of the low-rates for hotels. These people do not come to Malta because our hotel rates are higher – and are going up, thanks to the high demand. So it is expensive for tourists who would go to Tunis to choose Malta as an alternative. When there was an attack on tourists in Tunis in the middle of summer, those with a holiday planned there did not choose Malta as an alternative – they went somewhere else.
This is because the hotels in Malta, bang in the middle of summer, were fully booked. Our hotels were full on our own merit, not because there was a terrorist incident and so people then came to Malta. This is why I believe Malta is doing well under its own steam. Turkey has a similar model and, should things improve there, we might lose some tourists but the impact would be marginal.”
Tags: Malta Tourism Authority