02 August 2006

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Business Today

MHRA fear further decrease in July tourism

Matthew Vella

A decrease of 4.3 per cent in inbound tourism for June over the same month last year, has heightened concerns for Malta’s hoteliers, who yesterday said the Malta Tourism Authority’s work had not yielded any results.
Figures released by the National Statistics Office confirmed a decrease of 16.3 per cent in the British market, and a significant 5.1 per cent drop for holiday tourists. Another drop of 2.8 per cent was registered in bed nights spent in hotel accommodation.
Additionally, three-star hotels received a great hit with a total drop of some 20 per cent over June last year, while two-star properties increased by a massive 52 per cent.
“The negative figures are once again of concern to the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association… the decreasing figures of inbound visitors are a negative signal for the industry and in spite of the MTA restructuring exercise and the reassurance of marketing initiatives abroad, these have not yielded the desired growth to date,” the association said.
The MHRA also said the revenue for January-June 2006 was still disappointing despite an increase in occupancy registered in five-star hotels. Compared to same period last year, package and non-package tourists spent Lm359.6 per capita, a mere 1.7 per cent increase over the Lm355.3 spend last year. A significant increase came from Swiss tourists, whose spending per capita jumped from Lm398 to Lm576 in 2006.
The MHRA said it was awaiting the outcome of the tendering process underway at present under the government scheme to attract low cost carriers.
“MHRA does not consider LCCs as the only solution to increase numbers of visitors to the island but also every effort should be directed at marketing the island in an innovative manner, upgrade further the Malta product and create the necessary awareness for all Maltese to embrace the Branding core values of hospitality, diversity and heritage.”
Following negative figures in February and April, the association is also claiming preliminary forecasts for July are set to confirm the negative trend. The UK market received its largest blow ever, with its drop in June reaching all time high of 16.3 per cent.
Five-star hotels have registered a 10 per cent increase for the first six months, while four-star properties are dropped one per cent below June’s figure last year. St Julians and Melleha retained their popularity among tourists choosing hotels in that area, but Marsaskala, St Paul’s Bay, Sliema and Valletta suffered, with the St Paul’s Bay incurring the greatest decrease from 146,292 to 133,876 in air departures.
Gozo registered an increase of around 5.3 per cent by inbound visitors, from 16,643 in the January-June 2005 period, to 17,528 for the same period this year.


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