The restriction on the closing times of clubs discourages foreign clubbers from visiting Malta, despite the island’s vast potential in this sector according to one top UK promoter.
Talking to Business Today, John Crane of Kinky Malinki fame, says the island could rival other destinations if it relaxes restrictions on the closing time of entertainment establishments.
Kinky Malinki promotes events in top venues like Pacha in London. Its marketing is directed towards up-market clubbers interested in having a good time in venues in the UK or in other clubbing destinations throughout the world.
“Due to the way Malta is portrayed in the UK, I was always under the impression that Malta was a destination for old people,” Crane says.
But after teaming up with local promoter Jamie Mercieca he was surprised by the vibrant clubbing scene on the island.
According to Crane this sector has a great potential, mostly in the summer months but also for short weekend clubbing breaks in winter.
“Clubs in Malta could be more appealing than those in Ibiza, as they offer a good quality product at a lower cost. Drinks and admission fees are more affordable in Malta than in Ibiza.”
But Crane considers restrictions on closing times as a major disincentive for getting UK clubbers over to Malta.
“The events that I run in venues like Pasha in London start at 10.00pm lasting till 6.00am with after hours parties continuing in the morning. Being used to non-stop partying, these clubbers cannot understand why parties are stopped at 4.00 am in Malta,” Crane says.
According to Crane, clubbers also like to travel to destinations like Ibiza where they can spend the day relaxing on the beach after partying all night long.
Promoter Jamie Mercieca who has brought over to Malta top world DJs like Sacha, concurs that Malta can attract more tourists from the clubbing scene, especially during the winter months, when clubbers opt for short clubbing weekends.
Destinations like Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are already tapping this market successfully. With its mild winter climate, Malta can be even more competitive than these destinations.
“During the winter, charter flights can be organised for clubbers attending events in Malta. If restrictions on closing times are lifted, there is a vast potential for this sector,” Mercieca says.
But as long as current time limits are kept, even world class DJs are being discouraged from coming here.
While it is very expensive to get top rock bands to Malta, it is far less expensive to get DJs like Sacha, who have a crowd following throughout the international clubbing scene.
Mercieca does not want Malta to become another Ibiza.
“Clubbing should be considered as one of the many niches in our bid to diversify the tourist product,” he says.
In the midst of the current uproar on open bars, parties and drinking age, a relaxation of opening hours could be seen as out of tune with public opinion.
But Mercieca finds no contradiction in relaxing regulations on opening hours while clamping down on the sale of alcohol to minors and greater controls on open bars.
“I am only interested in promoting events for adults who buy their own drinks from the bar. While minors should be fully protected, adults should be free to party all night long,” says Mercieca.