FTI to stand by commitment to
- Refalo stresses importance of sustainability
Speaking recently at the FTI Hotel Fair, Tourism Minister
Michael Refalo commented that while Malta has now overcome the 11 September
effect, the countrys tourism sector still has to contend with
the threat of war in the Gulf.
Refalo described the potential conflict as "a re-run of 1991 events,
only more disastrous, if events take a turn for the worse".
The FTI Hotel Fair saw FTI, one of Germanys largest tour operators,
bring over 200 travel agency owners on a familiarisation visit to Malta
and to view Maltas hotels.
Speaking on incoming results from the high-yielding German market, Refalo
comments, "During the last four months Maltas results from
the German market have generally been positive, but one must remember
that the last quarter of 2001 was severely affected by the 11 September
atrocities and a worsening economic situation in Germany."
Refalo also cited the long working history between destination Malta
and FTI, explaining, "We have enjoyed good times as we have had
to battle against adversity."
Up to some time ago FTI carried over 100,000 German visitors to Malta
- 50 per cent of German visitor total. Since then, its owners sold out
to Airtours after FTI went through a bad patch, which had severely affected
the German tourism flow to Malta.
Since then, FTI has been restructured and now aims to increase viability
rather than concentrate solely on market share.
"This is the second time within a few months that FTI have come
to Malta in full force, and I am pleased to welcome Georg Eisenreich
again. Mr Eisenreich knows us well and loves Malta. He has placed his
trust in Malta as we place our trust in him and in the new FTI that
he leads," Refalo explains.
Refalo also recalled how in July last year, during Eisenreichs
last visit to Malta, he had committed FTI to destination Malta, with
the Malta Tourism Authority and FTI agreeing on a joint marketing strategy
for 2002 to 2005 based on the dual concept of quality and sustainability
at all levels.
"As Chairman of the World Tourism Organisations Steering
Committee for Destination Management, I listen to and understand the
worries expressed by government and industry leaders in the world of
tourism and I am very much aware that the industry is not only under
threat from external forces, but also as a result of past mistakes,
from itself," Refalo comments.
Minister Refalo added that he was pleased to hear that FTIs production
will achieve the planned 10,000 target for winter 2002/03 and that summer
sales are progressing quite satisfactorily.
The Minister also stressed that sustainability must be tourisms
watchword and that "we must all be strong enough to resist the
temptation of quick returns which can only result in long term, irreversible
degradation and destitution of the wonderful natural assets with which
God has endowed our earth".
The Minister congratulated FTI, part of Europes second largest
travel company, MyTravel, for endorsing and acting upon the principles
Turning to the current situation in the German market Minister Refalo
quoted FVW, Germanys leading travel digest and magazine, and said
that German consumers were holding back from buying their summer holidays
despite a wide range of discounts offered to early bookers. "An
FVW survey of 500 travel agencies found that only 22% confirmed that
discounts had generated sales."
"In volume terms it looks as if the cheaper destinations like Turkey,
Bulgaria and Croatia will again do well."
According to FVW a hopeful December has been followed by a January when
sales have been slow and 2002 trends appear to be continuing into 2003."
The Minister augured FTI and Malta a good year together and concluded
that while Malta and other tourism receiving destinations could do little
or nothing to change the course of world events, and must adjust as
required, the process of improving destination management and following
the principles of sustainable development must continue.