Record year for cruise line business
- 2002 sees over 30 per cent increase in niche market
- call for synergies between public/private sectors and tourism
Despite the fact that overall tourism had declined last
year, 2002 nevertheless saw an unparalleled year for cruise liner tourism,
with some 340,000 tourists from the niche sector visiting Malta last
year, Tourism Minister Michael Refalo revealed yesterday.
The results, which were the best ever, represented an increase of more
than 30 per cent over 2001s figures. Visitors from Spain, the
UK, the USA, France and Germany made up the main sources of supply and
had together contributed close to 80 per cent of the total.
Refalo added that since 1999 the annual growth rate for cruise line
business to Malta had increased by an average of 22 per cent.
Refalo explains, "Although tourism and cruise line activity both
involve the arrival of visitors to Malta, they are completely separate
activities. So much so that cruise line passengers are not included
in tourist arrival statistics.
"This does not mean that tourism does not have an interest and
does not support MMA to achieve such excellent results. We have in fact,
through MTA, worked hand in hand."
While applauding the fact that the construction of the new cruise line
terminal in Valletta was well on schedule and should meet its completion
target, Refalo explained how serving and servicing the needs and interests
of cruise line passengers was yet another means of generating more foreign
exchange earnings for Malta.
He elaborates, "Rather than competing for resources and attractions
it is essential that tourism and cruise business are well managed and
that both activities benefit from being complementary to one another."
The Minister was speaking yesterday at a seminar on cruise iner business
to Malta, which held the aim of exploring and finding the means to further
specify areas where further synergies between public and private sector
structures that support the cruise line business industry, could be
"In todays day and age the name of the game is integrated
resource management. Gone are the times when protecting ones turf
was the be all and end all," he explains, adding that the MTAs
Transport Issues Committee was one such structure that brought various
interests together to work for one common goal.
"Tourism needs the help and input of other areas of the public
administration and of the various private sector enterprises as much
as they need tourisms assistance and involvement."
Refalo also recommended that facilitating access to central Valletta
be made a top priority.
He explains, "During their brief stay in Malta sightseeing and
shopping are cruise line passengers main occupations. Not all
passengers opt for conducted tours. A good number venture out on their
own to find out for themselves and independently use different means
of transport to visit Valletta.
"Valletta has much to offer in the way of attractions and shops.
Our attractions and museums, not least our capitals commercial
outlets, can and should be better frequented and have the potential
to create more wealth and earn foreign exchange. We must give our visitors
every opportunity to spend and get a taste of the different experiences
that we have on offer."
Refalo also explained how the cruise line phenomenon was catching on
fast in Europe - with the UK, Spain, Germany and France emerging as
the source market leaders.
The cruise line business world wide is valued at USD15 billion. "At
the beginning of this year 30 new ships, costing USD12 billion between
them, were either on order or ready for delivery in the next four year
span. Cruise passengers are projected to increase by 60 per cent from
10 million in 2000 to 16 million in 2009. USA passengers are the industrys
main market and had topped seven million in 2002.