‘If we will need to extend the wage supplement, then we will extend it’ – Tourism Minister

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In a webinar hosted by the Malta Hotels & Restaurants Association (MHRA), Minister for Tourism and Consumer Production Clayton Bartolo said that if need be, the wage supplement will be extended beyond March.

“If we need to extend the wage supplement, then we will be extending it for sure,” the minister said.

Bartolo noted that one of the main aims of the tourism sector right now is to attract tourists who seek quality, while also noting that one should look at this time as an opportunity to adjust progressively. 

“We are also at a time when rather than seeing this time as faced with unprecedented challenges, we can see it as a time to start afresh. We will be rethinking and diversifying our tourist base,” he declared.

“I want our tourism to be the front liner of the post Covid-19 era; the tourism sector is one of the most important pillars in the country’s economy.”

The minister also remarked that given Malta’s fast roll out of the vaccines, it will market the country as a safe one to travel to.

Asked if we will be back to business as usual by summer, the minister was cautious in his reply. “Our aim is to be back to business as soon as possible. We are keeping in touch with stakeholders and the health authorities, as they are the experts. Eventually, we will find a balance to open as safely as possible,” he observed.

“We want to ensure that summer will be as normal as possible, even for the tourism sector.” 

MHRA President Tony Zahra

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

MHRA president Tony Zahra emphasised that quality should be at the forefront of the tourism strategy.

“Quality is defined as everyone doing the best he does. We must focus on the mentality of people; if we are going to be the second or third best in the international tourism market, we are going to fail,” he stated.

Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) chairman Gavin Gulia noted that the most crucial thing Malta needs to do is to re-establish stronger connectivity with other countries and tourists. “There is no doubt that there is a strong connection between connectivity, capacity and tourist arrivals,” he said.

Gulia said that the MTA has kept contact with its partners and stakeholders to make sure that connectivity was still there. “I’m sure that with this strategy we will be able to harness connectivity in order to start recovering.”

David G. Curmi, the Executive Chairman of Air Malta, noted that the pandemic has been the greatest showcase as to why there is a need to keep Air Malta alive for the country.

“It provided almost the only form of connectivity. There were still businessmen and passengers coming, and a lot of cargo and mail. Frankly, the answer is obvious to me; we need to ensure the existence of this airline.”

The Executive Chairman pointed out that some bold decisions need to be taken to ensure the sustainability of the airline. 

Recover, Rethink, Revitalise

CEO of the MTA Johann Buttigieg said that the MTA has stepped back from spending huge amounts on marketing campaigns but are making sure that Malta is still on the radar for those who might be seeking a holiday. “We are not inviting people to come over. But we are making sure that people know that it is there.”

The first targeted tourists will be the from the European market “which will be the first low hanging fruit that we can grasp,” Deputy CEO of MTA, Carlo Micallef, noted. The demographics to be targeted will be couples, families and small groups, mostly ranging from ages 25 to 55, as well as countries which have not been heavily affected by the pandemic in terms of economy, relatively speaking.

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