23 May 2007

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Malta Today



Increase over last year’s figures still expected – MTA Chairman

Gerald Fenech

The first quarter of the year has brought about some contrasting results for the cruise liner business. With the first two months practically barren in terms of arrivals according to NSO figures, the months of March and April have brought about a considerable increase to bring the total figure for the first quarter up to last year’s level in the same period of time.
In April, total cruise passenger traffic in Malta amounted to 37,787, an increase of 605 passengers over the same month in 2006. Embarkations from and landings in Malta in this month stood at 575 and 559 persons respectively.
January-April 2007
Total cruise passenger traffic in Malta amounted to 57,666, an increase of 1.7 per cent
Over the same period last year. Same-day visitors from EU countries accounted for 90.9 per cent of total traffic, the main markets being Germany, France and Italy.
On a gender basis, total traffic was almost on a par.
The largest proportion of passengers-35.8 percent comprised persons aged between 60 and 79 years, followed by those in the 40-59 age bracket who accounted for 32.2 per cent of the total.
When one looks at March, total cruise passenger traffic in Malta amounted to 15,441 an increase of 7,381, passengers over the same month in 2006. Embarkations from and landings in Malta during this month were practically nil. This increase was enough to offset the rather steep decreases in January and February which amounted to 4153 and 2848 passengers respectively. Again, no cruise liners called in Malta during these first two months of 2007.
Although the situation does not look too good in the cruise liner business, especially with the problems at the Deep Water Quay still unresolved, Malta Tourism Authority Chairman Sam Mifsud is however confident that the expected target of 420,000 passengers for 2007 will be reached.
“With the projections in hand, we as MTA are confident that the expected target set for this year will be reached by VISET. We are also conscious of the problem with the Deep Water Quay and are reliably informed that an incident similar to the one which we had a few weeks ago where a liner was not allowed to disembark its passengers will not occur again although in a sense, that is actually out of our hands as it’s the MMA’s and the Communications Ministry’s responsibility”.
Mifsud did complain about the fact that MTA does not seem to be informed when large cruise liners enter our ports or what facilities are required for such large berths.
“We are supposed to liaise with the relevant authorities when such cruise liners are coming to Malta so that we can prepare better for such vessels. However this is not always the case and I really hope that an improvement is made in this regard as unpleasant incidents that are detrimental to our image as a tourist destination can be avoided”, he added.
Speaking to Business Today, MHRA President Josef Formosa Gauci said that although figures are more or less on last year’s levels, the transfer of a cruise liner away from Maltese ports has had a negative affect on arrivals in the port.
He also warned that internal conflicts that can affect the industry should be avoided at all costs as these can do untoward harm to our image.
“Although we have established ourselves in the cruise liner market, we should avoid washing our dirty linen in public and in the process damage our reputation as a tourist destination”, Formosa Guaci added in comments on the incident at the terminal some weeks ago.

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