23 JANUARY 2002

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Record cruise activity year

The Malta Maritime Authority has registered an all time record in both the number of cruise passengers and cruise liners calling at the Port of Valletta last year.

A total of 356 cruise liners, with 272,000 passengers onboard, called at the Grand Harbour. This represents an increase of 56% over last year’s passenger figures.

The Authority also cited that the number of cruise liner scheduled calls for 2002 indicate that this year is set to become yet another record-breaking year for cruise activity in Malta with an estimated 300,000 cruise passengers anticipated to visit the island.

Malta also managed to double the number of turnarounds and hubbing operations, involving vessels of such cruise lines as Compagnie des Isles du Ponant, Louis and Festival. By the end of 2001, the activity reached a level of 50 turnarounds, with a throughput of almost 15,500 passengers. Compared with statistics recently published by international cruise experts, such figures would put Valletta in twelfth place among the main Mediterranean base ports.

This scenario coincides with the recent commencement of works on the new Cruise Terminal project by VISET, the private consortium which was granted an operational licence and the concession of a lease for the operation and development of passenger handling facilities in Valletta. This project will surely enable Malta to realise its vision to become an established cruise centre at the heart of the Mediterranean.

Speaking about the MMA’s contribution in light of this new reality, Malta Maritime Authority Chairman, Marc Bonello explained, "Despite the impending hand-over of passenger activity in Valletta, our commitment to the cruising industry remains. Indeed, we look forward to a close working relationship with VISET so that together we can expand the business further to the benefit of all concerned."

Dr Bonello added, "The outlook for cruise activity in Malta for this year seems quite optimistic in spite of the travel industry’s current situation. People’s fear of travelling, particularly Americans’, has cost Valletta over 85 cancellations from cruise vessels with a total capacity of 109,000 passengers. Fortunately, this factor appears to have been compensated by the European market as Malta seems well suited to clinch a sizeable share of Mediterranean cruise traffic that was diverted from the East Med, as a result of current events and unstable political situation in the Middle East."Dr Bonello concluded ‘’we are looking forward to yet another record-breaking year as we continue reaping the fruit of our port community’s hard work to make of cruise activity in Valletta the success story it has become."

 



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