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The Malta Chamber has repeated its recommendation to place a moratorium on applications for tourist accommodation to prevent oversupply.

The recommendation is part of The Malta Chamber’s wide-ranging tourism report for 202, compiled in association with consultancy firm Seed.

According to the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), there were 55,597 licenced beds available in 2019, including licensed third-party properties rented as private accommodation. This translates to roughly 20.3 million available bed nights.

The Malta tourism strategy 2021-2030, published for consultation earlier this year, suggests that the licensed bed stock could go up to 100,000 by 2030 if all tourist accommodation projects currently in the pipeline had to come to fruition, resulting in roughly 36.5 million available bed nights.

Assuming a seven-day average length of stay, this would generate roughly 22.4 million guest nights, which is 14.1 million nights short of the projected capacity.

This translates to an occupancy rate of 61.3 per cent, a rate considered by the sector to be unprofitable.

Applications that have been approved but are still at a planning stage
as at the date of enactment of the moratorium should be reviewed by the MTA, with investors incentivised and supported to revise their plans.

A think tank created by The Malta Chamber in 2020 had similarly called for the brakes to be put on new accommodation projects to keep bed stock in check.

“If supply increases and demand remains the same, it’s simple economics – the price will go down. That’s hardly what we want,” Robert Arrigo & Sons director Alan Arrigo told Businessnow.mt in August.

Other proposals related to accommodation include the restructuring of the current licensing regime to reflect new accommodation concepts and quality standards that match target clientele; revising hotel star classifications in the wake of the growing boutique-hotel concept, with a focus on raising the quality standards for all properties, and addressing longstanding licensing and enforcement challenges in the non-collective properties segment.

The report also included a call for Gozo to be given special protected status to conserve its uniqueness and put a stop to any further undermining of its natural and cultural assets. The island could also be marketed as a destination for digital nomads.

The overarching theme of the report was a call for sustainability.

“If we want Malta to be a truly competitive and memorable destination, then the customer journey needs to evolve in line with consumer expectations – this requires a product defined by a quality experience that cannot be replicated in any other destination,” the report stated.

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