9 - 15 May, 2001
A study commissioned by the Tourism Ministry has found several factors that are limiting the countrys tourism growth, which contributes some 25 per cent toward Maltas Gross Domestic Product.
As a result of the study, a tourism strategy has been designed that will serve as a guide for the forthcoming 10 years.
The study cites among Maltas limitations the economys dependence on tourisms foreign exchange potential and Maltese societys threshold to visitor numbers and limited spatial resources.
Continues from page 1Additionally, the study identifies excess bed stock in relation to existing and projected visitor arrival patterns and the resulting occupancy and price levels achieved, especially in view of the middle and lower end of the accommodation sector.
Furthermore, it was determined that visitor saturation levels during the peak season may adversely impact both visitor satisfaction and their rapport with the Maltese.
In view of these limitations, the Tourism Ministry and the Malta Tourism Authority have chosen to support certain policies and targets, which will serve as a tourism guideline for the next ten years.
However, these have been set within a framework that is expected to neither inhibit growth nor constrain the natural and gradual expansion and performance of Maltas tourism product.
In terms of economic considerations, the strategy aims to maintain tourisms contribution to Gross National Product at a level of 25 per cent while intending to increase of total foreign exchange earnings and per capita tourist expenditure of six per cent per annum which, assuming a rate of inflation of two per cent, will, in real terms, average out at four per cent.
Meanwhile, the strategy is expected to improve existing cost structures in all sectors of the industry and efficiency across the board. It will direct investment and support towards the more economically efficient segments of the industry while identifying and assessing segments with greater investment potential to ensure that social and private gain exceeds social and private cost.
The strategy will allocate resources to achieve increased employment and better value added and facilitate and create opportunities for tourist expenditure as identified by visitors themselves such as shopping, leisure and culture.
Also, promotion and publicity campaigns will be issued to chosen target audiences and higher socio-economic groupings to match an improved product and service offer.
In terms of accommodation, the strategy aims to stabilise bed stock at below 2002 projected levels and possibly reduce number of existing beds, while working towards a situation in which, at any given time, available bed stock would operate in viable market conditions and satisfy market demands.
Meanwhile, new accommodation development designed solely to attract traditional peak business will not be encouraged. It will assist owners of properties opting for changes of use within the industry or to exit from the industry, while ensuring that new development applications comply to more stringent processing guidelines which take density levels into consideration.
In this sphere, the strategy will also improve the quality of service in existing accommodation and catering establishments, particularly in the lower categories without an increase in the number of beds and establishments. It will additionally work towards increasing occupancy levels to an annual average of 65 per cent and therefore achieve a relative increase in room rates.
The new strategy is expected to provide for the developing and assisting owners of existing bed stock to adapt to specific accommodation components that cater for specialised tourism. It will target market segments with a higher potential to match components within the accommodation sector while helping them to achieve improved viability and identify others in which Malta may have a competitive edge.
The guidelines will provide for channel investment accordingly and develop ancillary facilities in the leisure, cultural and sports sector in support of the accommodation component and in particular segments as well as support events with a potential to attract winter and off peak business.
Meanwhile, under the guidelines of social considerations and visitor satisfaction, the strategy will aim to stabilise summer volume to ensure no excess of saturation levels, keeping within the tolerance and visitor satisfaction threshold by capping tourism volume at a maximum of 1,600,000 bed nights per month.
Meanwhile, it will promote growth in the off peak period, continue to target and develop different markets and interests in support of the desired improved seasonality pattern, plan for and ensure an adequate supply of labour to service the industrys requirements as well as those of ancillary industries.
The strategy will additionally assist in improving the presentation of, facilitate access to and intensify the marketing of Maltas unique heritage, while offering and channelling investment towards less resource-costly activities which in environmental, social and economic terms ensure that the best use is made of the limited resources available.