21 NOVEMBER 2001

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Marketing fund must be used at the right time – MHRA

By Miriam Dunn

The Malta Hotel and Restaurants Association is hoping that their initiative for the setting up of a special fund specifically for public relations and marketing in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks and resulting war will give the tourism industry a much-needed boost, but they still believe the main problem that needs addressing in the sector is the problem of seasonality.
Following the events of 11 September, the Malta Hotel and Restaurants Association decided to take steps to set up a fund which would be used for additional marketing of Malta as a holiday destination, over and above the standard activities of this kind carried out annually.
The MHRA asked its members to make a contribution to the kitty, on the understanding that the government would likewise contribute the same proportion to specifically market and promote Malta as the attractive and safe destination it has always been. An agreement between the two sides has been reached in principle and the fund, which it is expected to be of a substantial amount, will be administered by the Malta Tourism Authority.
MHRA president, Anthony Chircop, told The Malta Financial and Business Times that the one-off contributions each of the association’s members made were benchmarked to 10 per cent of the annual contribution payable to the MTA for marketing and promotional purposes.
He added that although the MTA would decide the kind of marketing and public relations it needed, the MHRA’s own view is that in the current economic climate, timing is vital for marketing holiday destinations.
"We believe that taking the present situation into consideration, when people are concerned about travelling, it is probably best to allow things to settle, before launching this campaign," he said.
He added that although Malta is definitely not perceived as a risky destination in the way that some other resorts closer to possible hotspots are, the problem is simply that tourists are at present afraid to fly, irrespective of where they are going.
"We hope if things calm down, this sense of worry will ease off in a while," he said. "If there are no other incidents and everything settles a little, we believe that would be the right time to give a start to this campaign. "
Mr Chircop admitted that as would be expected, bookings for winter are low, but he added that until the problem of seasonality is addressed properly, things will never be satisfactory during the forthcoming months These are always difficult months - irrespective of the current situation.
"This is a problem we have to deal with year after year," he said. "The MHRA has long been insisting with the authorities to re-position Malta with a view to targeting out-of-season tourism, especially niche markets, while proceeding with the necessary upgrading needed to be able to successfully attract the more culturally oriented holidaymakers."

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt