03 May 2006

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Business Today

MHRA says Gatt’s outburst “not in the national interest”

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association has expressed “surprise” at Investments Minister Austin Gatt’s speech at the Amitex Fair last week, claiming government is showing its lack of awareness of the state of the tourism industry and the MHRA’s stand on low cost airlines.
The association, which represents 70 per cent of all Maltese hotels, said it has never advocated a ‘low cost at all costs’ position on the contentious issue of whether low cost airlines should be enjoy subsidised landing rates.
The association described Gatt’s speech as a public outburst that was not in the national interest.
“MHRA has always said that it wants low cost carriers to come to Malta within a framework that ensures that the current foreign and local airlines and tour operators continue to operate to our islands. Low cost carriers are today considered necessary because the traditional tourism trends in Europe have changed as a result of the rise of travel through the internet,” the association said.
“By not being part of the internet society offering the widest choice of point of departures and destinations at the lowest prices, Malta and Gozo would have opted out of an enormous market that keeps growing day by day. The very disappointing arrival figures for the past winter should be enough of an eye opener for all to realise that action is needed and needed urgently. This action should also include more focused marketing and more attention to the state of the product.”
The MHRA has set up a task force putting together a recommendation for discussion with government as to the way forward on low cost carriers. “MHRA’s only interest is ensuring the success of the tourism industry in which its members have invested half a billion Maltese liri, are employing thousands of workers and an industry that is contributing over 25 per cent of the country’s GDP.”

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