23 May 2007

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Malta Today



Drop in tour operator business, ‘much greater than anticipated’ – MHRA President

Gerald Fenech

Although tourist arrivals for the first quarter of the year have increased considerably, this does not mean in any way that we have overcome or are about to overcome the current crisis in the tourism industry. Adding to this scenario, the drop in tour operator business for the months ahead appears to be much greater than had initially been anticipated.
This was revealed by Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association President Josef Formosa Gauci in comments to Business Today on the current state of the market.
“We are seeing a slow but steady increase over last year’s tourism figures but one also has to keep in mind that last year was not a great year either. So every increase must be taken in a context, and that’s apart from the other fact that tourist stays are decreasing as the traveller is now opting for shorter stays or holidays”.

Formosa Gauci also quashed the rumour currently going around that hotels are full to bursting point for next summer with rampant over bookings for the peak season.
“This is definitely not the case. Although we expect to see a small increase over last year in tourist arrivals over the coming months, we are still experiencing less bed nights so that is putting several hotels into a quandary. There could be a few hotels who are overbooked on particular dates but this is normal procedure throughout the summer months” Recently coming back from a promotional mission to market Malta in the Northern Italian towns of Pisa and Florence, Formosa Gauci painted a bleak picture for the tour operator based business which is steadily declining.
“The drop in tour operator bookings is much greater than anticipated and we are now reaching crisis point. As MHRA, we are in constant contact with the MTA and government on marketing Malta in foreign countries but the reality is that business is diversifying itself with an increase in corporate business and a relevant drop in package holidays. Something needs to be done and its has to be done fast”.

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