22 March 2006

The Web
Business Today

Emergency meeting to stop tour operator from pulling out

During an emergency meeting held on Monday the Malta Tourism Authority sought to persuade a major tour operator from pulling out of the Maltese islands, a move, which could deliver a devastating blow to the four and three star hotels.
The discussions with the tour operator are still underway and an MTA spokesperson yesterday declined to comment on the outcome of Monday’s talks.
Talking to Business Today, MLP spokesperson Evarist Bartolo said that the departure of First Choice would be a devastating blow to four and three star hotels.
“80 per cent of four star hotels and 95 per cent of three star hotels depend on tour operators,” the MLP’s spokesperson told Business Today.
Bartolo added that major operators are threatening not to operate in Malta during the summer months.
“We need to take preventive measures rather than last minute measures to avert the departure of these tour operators.”
The departure of First Choice was raised by Winston Zahra during yesterday’s MHRA meeting. During the meeting Zahra expressed his concern that a major tour operator was seriously considering quitting from Malta and questioned why the MTA allowed things to reach this level.
MHRA President Justin Zammit Tabona confirmed that the departure of this tour operator was discussed in a meeting held at the MTA on Monday.
“We had an extraordinary meeting of a couple of hours to stop tour operators from moving away,” Zammit Tabona said.
A spokesperson for the MTA would not comment on the outcome of last Monday’s meeting.
“This is an issue of a highly sensitive commercial nature, and it would be totally irresponsible for anyone concerned to give details at this juncture.”
He also rebutted criticism that the MTA has intervened very late in the day.
“The MTA was among the first to be made aware of the tour operator’s predicament and, as a result, discussions with the company and the Maltese agents began almost immediately,”
The MTA spokesperson added that discussions with the company are still underway.

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