61% of employees in restaurants are foreigners, MHRA survey finds

Last Updated on Monday, 27 February, 2023 at 7:48 pm by Andre Camilleri

61% of those working in restaurants are foreign nationals, according to a survey commissioned by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) to look into the industry.

MHRA president Tony Zahra on Monday gave an animated speech about the need to compete on the international stage by putting Malta’s hotel and restaurant interests first, focusing on the quality of the service offered.

“There’s a big wide world competing against us; we’re no longer cheap. What can we compete on? Hospitality,” Zahra said.

He further said that the outlook for 2023 looked promising, given the recent recovery that the tourism sector had undergone.

Andre Agius, managing director at ProKitchen, presented some statistics on the dining habits of restaurant-goers in Malta and Gozo and Ben Vincenti, Bookia and Tableo cofounder and COO, then gave a short speech about both applications that launched in 2020.

At the conference, Raphael Aloisio, the financial advisory leader at Deloitte Malta, presented the BOV Deloitte Restaurant Performance Survey of 2022.

The survey involved 70 respondents from all over the island, documenting their experiences running restaurants in 2022.

The survey found that 56% of restaurants were family-owned businesses, with the vast majority of those (72%) being a first-generation business.

It found that customers were relatively mixed between locals (56%) and foreigners (44%), while employees were largely foreign, with 61% of all employees being foreign and the remaining 39% being local.

When compared to the pre-Covid period in 2019, 31% of restaurants reported improved revenue, 54% claimed they had lower takings, and 15% said that their income remained the same.

However when compared to 2021, things weren’t looking so bleak; nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) reported improved revenues, while only 15% reported a reduction in intake.

69% of respondents claimed to be satisfied with their restaurant’s performance in 2022, with the least satisfied regions being those based in Gozo and the Northern Harbour region, while 67% stated that they expected 2023 to be a good or a very good year for business.

Aloisio emphasised three points based on the statistics collected.

“The recovery is not full but we’re heading in the right direction,” he said. “We need to focus on increasing the quality of the products that we provide to customers,” he added.

And lastly, he cautioned against the danger of oversupply. The cake is not growing, a not insignificant amount of expats have left the country, and there isn’t unlimited demand for products, Aloisio said.

The Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo was scheduled to attend the event but had to pull out due to unforeseen circumstances.

Kevin Fsadni, a member on the Ministry of Tourism’s board of directors, spoke about the need to attract a greater number of tourists and that we need to introduce more expenditure into this growing sector. He also put an emphasis on sustainability and delivering high-quality products.

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