Hospitality

In light of damaging hospitality workers shortage, the Malta Hotels and Restaurant Association (MHRA) has called on the Government to exempt from tax payments overtime and part-time revenues earned by employees working in the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors.

Issuing a statement on Monday, the association stated that everything necessary should be done to attract and retain employees working in the tourism industry, “even during such difficult times” as the COVID pandemic.

The request was issued as the already dire worker shortage – caused by an exodus of foreigners during the COVID pandemic – has been aggravated by the new travel rule insisting that foreigners present vaccine certificates or isolate upon arrival in a designated hotel at their own expense.

Last week, speaking to BusinessNow.mt, Clarie Zammit Xuereb, hotel industry stakeholder and AX Group’s director of hospitality called for additional support for the industry, particularly reliant on imported labour.

“If foreign workers are obliged to quarantine on entry,” she said, “then it must also be a priority for the Government to support and subsidise financially the quarantine period for foreign workers.”

“Our HR teams had been working for months on end to secure labour from international markets; plans which have now fizzled into thin air due to the decision of mandatory vaccination.”

The labour shortage has reached a head in recent months, with operators in the hospitality industry struggling to fill essential positions for staff, forcing some to reduce service.

In its statement, the MHRA also referred to Malta being added to the EU’s red list for international travel and the COVID situation in general.

red list
ECDC combined indicator. 15th July 2021

While the red-list does not have any direct consequences for international travel from Malta, it is intended as a guide for EU member states to evaluate which destination countries should be placed on their own travel restriction lists.

Considering the country’s strong vaccination programme, and the fact that most recently infected cases have been found in unvaccinated individuals, the MHRA president Tony Zahra stated: “Malta’s task now is to complete the vaccination drive to get every resident Malta protected.”

For the sake of the tourism industry, “the heart that pumps the economic blood of Malta”, the Government must work with stakeholders to support the hospitality industry, continue its focus towards hospitalisation figures rather than case numbers, and pursue efforts to get back to the Green status as soon as possible, the association said.

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