The President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), Tony Zahra said that the results in the tourism sector, which registered a record once again last year, should encourage more investment so that the product will continue to be improved and tourists will have the best value for their money in the accommodation sector. Mr Zahra said that although he is optimistic for this year, he expects competition to increase from other Mediterranean destinations which offer cheaper holidays than Malta.
The latest MHRA survey has confirmed that last year was the sixth record year for tourism with the arrival of almost 2.6 million tourists. The study showed that there was an increase of 12.5 % in the number of bed nights and an increase in tourist expenditure which went up to more than 2 billion Euro.
The growth in the first nine months of the year continued in the last quarter when the number of tourists which arrived in Malta increased by 9.8% and the number of bed nights increased by 8.5%. Statistics from the National Office of Statistics show that while the number of nights at hotels in 2018 increased by 7.1%, in private accommodation they increased by 19.7%.
Mr Zahra once again complained about the trend which shows that more tourists are not staying in hotels but at non-licensed accommodation.
“The increase in the number of arrivals went more towards what we call non-collective accommodation, in other words, those units which are not licenced, and are not being run according to law, rather than going to hotels.”
Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi said that tourists who choose private accommodation are a reality which exists everywhere.
“We need to ensure that there is a level playing field, in other words, that these type of operators have insurance and are paying tax and therefore we will be working with the MHRA on this in the months to come to take this initiative.”
Mr Zahra said that the rest of the survey results were good. He appealed for more investment in the tourist product while warning the industry that this year they may be competing against cheaper holiday destinations.
Minister Mizzi said that the increase in connectivity is leading to an increase in tourism, with 15% of tourists coming from non-EU countries. He said while the private sector is investing to improve the tourist sector, the Government is carrying out a project to upgrade Paceville and eight other tourist locations within the next four years.
He said that together with MHRA, the Government needs to decide where the country wants to go in terms of tourism by 2025. It, therefore, needed to draft a national strategy for tourism.