30 August 2006

The Web
Business Today

Planning ahead

With the prospect of having Ryanair and Easyjet operating from Malta in the coming months, this leader hopes that the Malta Tourism Authority is doing some forward thinking on the possibility of having a greater influx of tourists coming through Luton and Dublin.
Instead of getting caught unawares, the MTA should engage in some serious market research to determine what type of tourist is most likely to pick up a cheap ticket, board Ryanair or Easyjet and come to Malta.
Understanding the potential new tourist would enable the MTA to put together a marketing campaign in Ireland and Britain that would tantalise the ‘travel buds’ of what could be an important impetus to the waning sector in Malta.
Will the likely tourist come here for a weekend break? If so, is the MTA planning an entertainment and what-to-do guide covering a span of months to give these weekend-breakers quick reference information on events in Malta?
How is the MTA gearing up its website to make it attractive for the short-stay tourist?
Will these tourists be interested in historical sites, culture and other assets currently the subject of MTA’s branding exercise?
The MTA needs to get its act together. If tourist numbers do go up, a number of infrastructural services such as transport would have to be primed up. Will the MTA be pushing for the liberalisation of the taxi service to encourage competition and possibly lower prices? How will restaurants and hotels be enticed to charge reasonable prices for their services?
Now that low-cost carriers Ryanair and Easyjet are a reality everything hinges on the MTA’s preparedness to harness the gains.
This is not to say that Ryanair and Easyjet will solve Malta’s tourist ills. Their arrival here is no manna from Heaven and it would be a mistake to believe so.
The MTA, the tourism ministry, hoteliers and all those who operate in the sector need to appreciate the need for change. Malta’s marketing efforts need to be tailored-made to the tourists most likely to come here over the next 18 months. In the longer term a brand strategy should be developed that needs to be exported to entice different tourist segments.
It is unbelievable how Montenegro, only just an independent state, and Cyprus, a fellow Mediterranean competitor destination, are consistently present in the foreign media. Malta can compete but it seriously needs to get its act together.
Apart from the high-flying projects and initiatives needed to upgrade Malta’s infrastructure, government can do much with already available resources.
It does not take one cent more than is currently being paid to organise all of Malta’s sandy beaches and maintain them spick and span on a daily basis. All it takes is enforcement to ensure that construction sites do not inconvenience neighbours. Not much goes into stopping all construction work in tourist areas during the summer months.
Tourism is in crisis and finally government has woken up to this reality. Solutions do exist and some may not cost public coffers more than what they are costing today.
A serious strategy is required to address the problem on both a short and long term basis. This leader hopes that the coming of Ryanair and Easyjet would serve as an impetus to embrace change.

Troubled GWU
This is the second week running that this leader is addressing the issues of tourism and the internal strife at the GWU. It is not a fixation. Tourism is an important sector in Malta’s economy and much depends on its ability to revive.
The GWU is also an important player in the industrial relations landscape of this country and the internal strife that seems to have no end is a source of instability.
Industrialists and business owners are seriously questioning whether any discussions they might be having with section secretaries of the union will eventually be overturned by the central administration.
Yesterday’s resignation of Emmanuel Zammit and the committee members of his section is the second serious blow in less than three weeks for Malta’s largest trade union. Losing people like Josephine Attard Sultana and Emmanuel Zammit is serious and should have the administration worried.
Losing people this way risks creating a brain drain at the union apart from denting its credibility.
Things cannot continue this way.

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