Malta, between sustainability and deseasonalisation

Tourism is a very important sector to the Maltese economy, and the environment is competitive. According to the report “Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report” released by World Economic Forum, Malta is at 40th out of 141 analysed Countries for tourism competitiveness. The Government totally prioritizes Travel & Tourism in its economy (1st of 141 Countries). Moreover, Malta has solid ground and port infrastructure (22nd) and tourist service infrastructure (24th).  “Natural Resources”(115th) and Price Competitiveness (106th) are ranked as weaker points.

As reported by WTTC – World Travel & Tourism Council in its “Travel & Tourism: Economic Impact 2016”, in 2015 tourism represented 15,1% of Maltese GDP, generating a direct contribution of 1,259.6 million euros. It is foreseen an annual growth by 4%, up to represent 18,9% of GDP in 2016. On the other hand, the total contribution was 2,311 million euros, that is 27,7% of GDP, and it is projected to grow up to 33,8% by 2026.

In the same year, the international tourists expense was 1,5 billion euros. In 2016, according to the Ministry for Tourism of Malta, tourists were 2 million, and their expense was 1,7 billion. In 2026, 3,250,000 arrivals are foreseen in the island, and the expense is expected to grow up to 2,5 billion. It is not surprising that 88,7% of tourism expense comes from the leisure segment, as the Maltese tourism supply is focused on the “Sea & Sun” and on the youth entertainment. The main market of origin is the UK, which registers 30% of total arrivals, followed by Italy, Germany and France.

According to the Ministry for Tourism, the main events that are going to attract tourism flows in 2017 are the “Malta International Fireworks Festival“, which will take place at the end of April, the “Isle of Mtv“, important music festival in June and “Malta International Arts Festival“, between June and July.

In 2018, La Valletta will be European Capital of Culture, selected by the European Commission. La Valletta 2018 Foundation, created to design a cultural calendar for 2018, is planning several events which are expected to bring benefit to tourism flows.

With the number of international tourists growing and waiting for the many events which will take place in the Country, the Maltese Government is investing in infrastructure, especially on mobility. An example is the “Kappara Project“, a requalification plan of the road network which will cost 26 million euros, and which will be finished by the end of 2017.

The “Paceville Master Plan” is also being realised, a project which aims to create sustainable public spaces and services in the high-visited area of Paceville, and which taken into account an expense of 300 million euros.

The Ministry for Tourism published the “National Tourism Policy 2015 – 2020“, a multiannual plan which underlines the goals that the Government wants to reach in tourism. One of the most important points of the plan is the reducing seasonality and the managing the number of visitors. Malta, as other famous tourism destinations, is having issues in tourism sustainability. Due to its small dimensions, the uncontrolled number of tourists during the summer season generates problems in environmental field and in overcrowding.

As reported by TTG Media, the Maltese tourism supply is opening towards new tourism demand segments, such as luxury and LGBT.

According to the UK Foreign Travel Advice, Malta is still a safe destination, with a low threath from terrorism. Petty crime is frequent during the summer season, due to the number of people in the Country.

At Twissen we observed that tourism policies of the destination Malta are focused on sustainability and on deseasonalising the tourism flows, lead by the organisation of events. In particular, the orientation towards new segments, such as luxury, creates interesting business opportunities.