€500 million is wasted every government term on non-standard public sector wages – Robert Arrigo

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 September, 2022 at 2:54 pm by Andre Camilleri

PN Spokesperson for Tourism Robert Arrigo said that €500 million is wasted in one government term on non-standard public sector wages.

He said that a lot of public sector workers receive a wage way above what is standard because of political links.

Arrigo is referring to the extra employment in the public sector which has increased the government’s wage bill.

He said that the government is competing with the private sector, whose wages would be paid by those who had their workers poached. He emphasised that these millions could be used elsewhere to improve industries and save lives.

“Our industry should not suffer for a vote,” Arrigo said.

Arrigo was speaking during the 2022 Rediscover Tourism Conference, hosted by The Malta Chamber of Commerce.

Initially, the Chamber president, Marisa Xuereb, made reference to the study conducted last week by Deloitte which was commissioned by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA). It concluded that Malta will need 4.7 million tourists to accommodate 80% of the planned increase in bed stock. Xuereb also mentioned that the Chamber had conducted a similar study in November 2021, with similar results.

“You cannot be everything for everyone at once in the same street,” she said.

In reference to the results of these studies, she asked why permits continue to be granted even though Malta does not have the capacity to cater for more.

Instead, Xuereb said that the country must focus more on improving Malta’s current tourism infrastructure.

“Policies will not please everyone at once, but without them, it will ruin everything at once,” Xuereb said.

Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo also spoke during the conference, and he said that “Malta cannot afford to have more development to meet tourism demand.”

During Bartolo’s speech, he praised Malta for striving in the tourism industry, despite all the issues the world is facing at the moment, and he praised Air Malta for doing well with its seat capacity.

Bartolo said that later on this year, infrastructural projects will start in Ghadira, while a tender is currently being drafted for the preparation of a regeneration tender for Bugibba and St Pauls Bay area.

He said that this will take into account spatial planning and sustainable urban development, infrastructure and transport, social development, existing and new economic activities, and sustainable tourism.

He further said that there is also the Paceville town centre management project, which aims to transform Paceville into a safe and vibrant area.

Bartolo also highlighted the Importance of Valletta and praised the government, EU funds and private enterprise for bringing it back to life. He also made it clear that Valletta is different and should be treated differently from other tourist zones.

He made sure to emphasise the importance of cleanliness and went on to praise the government for investing €400,000 to combat littering on beaches.

The Chamber’s CEO Marthese Portelli focused on how moving forward, “we cannot be everything for everyone.”

Portelli said that Malta must focus on three main pillars: improving the customer journey, encouraging authentic and unique experiences, and building our capacities.

Portelli, also said that all government branches need to focus on quality over quantity. She added that the government needs to stop direct competition between the private and public sectors.

When talking about planning and development, she said that there needs to be more of a focus on aesthetics to prevent the uglification of Malta.

With regards to industry commitments, it needs to co-operate in redesigning the country’s offering, adapt to the change require. She spoke of the need for more collective collaboration, investment in human resources and investment in digitalisation.

Air seat capacity was 78% of pre-pandemic levels for the first 6 months

The Malta Tourism Association CEO Carlo Micallef, also spoke during the conference. He revealed that air seat capacity was at 78% for the first 6 months of the year. These statistics are on par with pre-covid levels.

He further revealed that since May, the air seat capacity has been better than that of 2019.

Micallef said that inbound tourism declined in 2020 but nearly reached 1 million tourists in 2021, and it is estimated to exceed 2 million tourists by the end of the year.

He said that the estimated air seat capacity for winter 2022/2023 will reach 91% of pre-pandemic levels.

Arrigo, during his speech, had also criticised Air Malta flights for being excessively expensive.

He emphasised the struggles the tourism industry is facing due to inflation. He said that hotels and restaurants have suffered an increase in prices of beef fillet by 98%, chicken breast by 86%, mayonnaise by 60%, dry pasta by 50% and toilet paper by 30%.

Arrigo also spoke about Valletta and how it should be preserved better. “Music cannot turn into noise after 10 pm,” he said. He also said that Mdina should aim at attracting a special clientele.

When speaking about Gozo, he pointed out that the development plan needs to be a different one.

Additionally, he said that during peak tourism, Comino becomes a “daily siege.” He pointed out that two years ago, the Nationalist Part mentioned Comino but nobody noticed. He emphasised that the whole island needs to be used, instead of just focusing on kiosk business.

He concluded by encouraging the parties to join forces to work together to improve the tourism industry.

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