clayton bartolo

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has announced an incentive and aid package of €20 million for the tourism sector that will provide targeted help to particular sectors within the industry, saying also that his Ministry will seek to provide clarity and guidance where needed to the hard-hit sector.

The Minister said that Malta will be ready to welcome international tourists as from 1st June.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Minister Bartolo described the package as a collection of schemes targeted at Quality Assured Visitor Attractions, individual tourists and long stay tourists.

The conference (MICE) and the English Language Teaching (ELT) sectors will both be given the help they need.

Sports tourism is also highlighted, with diving in particular noted as an important niche on which, Minister Bartolo said, “we want to build our future recovery”.

Incoming travel agent operators will also be given assistance, while a reserve fund will be created to help the events and festival sector, he said.

Minister Bartolo remarked that “Aid is crucial, but we believe that no matter what we do, we need to roll up our sleeves to work even harder.”

“We, therefore, believe that the tourism sector should be aware of our plans for the coming months,” he said.

He announced that the islands would be fully ready to welcome international tourists from the 1st of June, with many of the first arrivals coming from the UK, which he described as one of Malta’s most important source markets.

“I can announce that we are in bilateral discussions as regards health, as there is strong interest in Malta from this market.”

Mr Bartolo announced that the UK will be the target of an aggressive advertising campaign by Malta, using both traditional and digital media.

“We will use the experience gained over the last years to convey the narrative that as the world exits from the pandemic, our country is an ideal one to visit and, while observing health measures, enjoy a holiday like only Malta can offer.”

In light of this, Mr Bartolo announced brand partnerships with popular travel websites Expedia, Trip Advisor, Trivago and Lastminute.com.

Meanwhile, he expects the partnership with Manchester United FC to result in a maximum return on investment for Malta.

The rest of Europe is also in Malta’s aim, with the Minister pointing out that since tourists from these countries may not be able to go to other places, Malta is well-placed to capitalise on the situation.

Minister Bartolo also stressed that vaccination is continuing at a steady rate in both the UK and the EU, as it is in Malta, and by June is expected to have covered a substantial portion of the populations of these territories.

He said that Malta is in discussion with the European Commission to see that there is a virtual certificate for those vaccinated, so they may travel without restrictions.

Meanwhile, there are also ongoing discussions with the health department to maintain the traffic light system of green, amber and red countries, by asking arrivals from such countries for a negative PCR test.

Turning to connectivity, the Minister said his ministry worked hard over the last year to make sure airlines remain interested in Malta.

Describing connectivity as the lungs of tourism, without which the industry cannot survive, he announced there will be 18 airlines flying to Malta, with four of these being new.

He pointed out that these will be flying 70 per cent of the routes available in 2019.

“During a pandemic, when tourism was brought to a halt around the world – we were at the forefront, working hard to maintain connectivity,” he said.

As for cruise liners, he indicated that by the end of June there would have been 34 port calls, noting that this means that Malta remains solidly on the itinerary of the major cruise liners.

He ended his address with an impassioned plea.

“Those of you who are thinking to break or go around the restrictions of the public health authority, I appeal to you to bring to mind that owner of a bar or kazin who has been closed since 28th October – who has been closed for five months.”

“Think of the restaurateur, who had to change to takeaway and is making his own sacrifice, think of that souvenir shop owner who probably doesn’t even remember the last time a tourist walked through his doors.”

“And think of the hoteliers,” he continued, “who invested millions to help us upgrade our touristic product.

“All these, along with all the workers involved in the tourism sector, don’t deserve to be tripped up, but deserve the utmost cooperation.”

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