29 October 2003

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Enhancing Malta’s conference and incentive offer through people

The Malta Tourism Authority believes Malta’s conference and incentive tourism market holds great potential, but that the sector’s professional training must go hand in hand with the heavy investment that has been made in the market segment

It is estimated that 61,000 delegates visited Malta in the year 2000, while 57,500 delegates came to Malta in 2001. The profile of this market is different from other segments, and therefore so are the demands on the product and service offered in Malta.
The Conference and Incentive (CIT) market is an important niche for the Maltese islands with four per cent of total tourist arrivals being conference and incentive delegates. Significantly these spend approximately three times as much as an average tourist, and this explains why this segment is central to the achievement of MTA’s strategic plan objectives to increase both volume and earnings in the shoulder months.
Malta has a high potential as a CIT hosting destination since it has an offer which combines meetings with cultural locations, sporting events, outdoor activities, as well as other recreational pursuits. These factors combined rank highly in the list of benefits which encourage CIT organisers to chose Malta over other competing destinations, for their events.
Since 1995, there has been heavy investment in hotel infrastructure, venues as well as meeting facilities, and Malta has managed to attract prestigious hotel franchises with an international reputation for superior quality standards. In addition, five-star and four-star hotels boast in-house state of the art meeting facilities. The fact that most of these facilities are concentrated in one area, within walking distance of each other, has greatly improved Malta’s potential for attracting larger conferences.
The local CIT scenario is characterised by a large number of Destination Management Companies (DMCs), many of which operate as small or medium sized enterprises, but which are at the same time capable of handling large events. Given the small nature of most local DMCs, together with the fact that some of them also handle tour operating business, employees at times perform multiple duties beyond those related to CIT. Nonetheless the service given to the delegates is of optimum quality.
The abilities and skills of the local industry is reflected by the fact that in recent years these have seen a number of major international corporations organising conferences and incentive meetings in Malta. The prospects for Malta in this segment are encouraging. However, we need to ensure the consistent delivery of the product promised, while ensuring that CIT delegate expectations are not only met but exceeded.
Over the past years, the Malta Tourism Authority has invested heavily in marketing Malta as the ideal destination for conference and incentive travel, and has strengthened its CIT Division to focus and co-ordinate the Authority’s CIT marketing efforts. "Moreover, this year the MTA has set up a strategic working group to develop a long term action plan based on various issues raised during the intensive survey undertaken with the Destination Management Companies (DMCs) in 2002," said MTA CIT Division Manager Suzanne Cassar Dimech.
The importance of professional training within this sector was highlighted following a survey and report on ‘The CIT Market in Malta’ carried out by the MTA. The Authority recognises the importance of a service culture to complement the tourism product, as this increases value to the delegates’ stay and is critical to Malta’s distinct competitive advantage.
Training in this sector is particularly important to better equip local tourism providers and related services with the skills and abilities necessary to meet the discerning needs of this market. Among the initiatives undertaken to address the issues raised by key players in this sector, a training seminar, entitled ‘Managing the MICE (Meetings and Incentive and Conference and Events) Business Successfully’ is being organised on 6 and 7 November by the MTA’s Human Resources & Support Services together with the CIT Division.
"The seminar is aimed at enhancing the skills of key personnel operating in the CIT business to adopt an appropriate strategy to maintain and develop existing clients," explained Mr Joe Tanti, MTA Manager within the MTA’s Human Resources and Support Services Directorate.
For more information about this seminar, please contact CIT Senior Executive Angela Said on tel. no: 22915205 or email: angela.said@visitmalta.com

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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