20 MARCH 2002

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Malta contributes to tourism recovery committee

Tourism Minister Michael Refalo last Friday participated in the second meeting of the Tourism Recovery Committee, a high level meeting attended by tourism ministers worldwide to discuss the impacts of the 11 September on tourism. Dr Refalo was accompanied by MTA Chief Executive, Leslie Vella.

The Committee, hosted by the World Tourism Organisation, has provided leadership and guidance to the world tourism community over the past five months as it faced the biggest challenge ever. This select group met for the first time in London last November to assess the current situation and discuss short-term actions to help the industry recover. A sub-committee of representatives from the Mediterranean region was also formed in the interim period and it met in Spain and Tunisia to discuss regional strategies.

Friday’s meeting in Berlin sought to analyse trends over the past few months and how member states have responded to the crises. In this perspective, Minister Refalo said that Malta ended up with a 3% downfall in tourist arrivals in 2001. "The good forward booking situation kept the industry buoyant till the end of the year despite the loss of many conferences and groups. Due to a lull in bookings in the September-November 2001 period, December 2001 and January 2002 were bad months and registered losses. A slight recovery began in February and is being felt in March."

"The Ministry of Tourism recognised the serious nature of events and immediately set up a task force, with officials from the Ministry, MTA, Air Malta, MHRA and FATTA, to evaluate the situation.

The end result is that the Government increased funding for tourism, whilst MTA extended its advertising campaign although it also keeps enough in reserve to fund marketing initiatives once the crisis is over."

Minister Refalo acknowledged that the tourism industry has faced lower hotel rates and a decrease in profits over the past few months. "It is enheartening however that notwithstanding the difficult times there have been only relatively few discharges from full-time employment in the tourism industry."

 



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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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