Common vision for tourism needed as receptive capacity outpaces demand - MTA CEO

Malta’s tourism sector is currently operating in highly competitive times in situations where receptive capacity is expanding at rates which are outpacing demand, the CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority has claimed


Malta’s tourism sector is currently operating in highly competitive times in situations where receptive capacity is expanding at rates which are outpacing demand, the CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority has claimed.

Carlo Micallef said that sustainability pressures are pitting all forms of economic activity against the higher ideals of protected recreational space and well-being, arising from a growing need for an improved work-life balance.

“There are also domestic challenges, which are compounded by a complex world in which we face competitors not constrained by many of the limitations we face, including size, density, lack of resources, import-dependence, distance from source markets, insularity, dependence on aviation and the highly regulated European operational framework which some of our larger Mediterranean competitors find themselves exempted from,” he said.

But despite facing many challenges, the successes should not be disregarded, Micallef said.

“We have not only grown our tourism numbers, but we have widened our season, diversified our geographic source markets, expanded our age demographic and tapped into an expanding range of motivational reasons why tourists visit Malta and Gozo,” he said.

He said that operators in the tourism industry need to work together with a common vision if Malta is to overcome the challenges ahead.

“Rethinking tourism recognises not only that the world continues to change, but that it is changing fast,” Micallef said. “Ours today is a world where generations of globalised travellers, accustomed to unrestrained and affordable travel opportunities and to an ever-increasing choice of destinations with competitive offers, are facing the pressures and forces of change as our world adapts to new realities.”

Earlier this week, Micallef addressed  a special conference organised by The Malta Chamber on the occasion of World Tourism Day as commemorated by the United Nations, with the theme ‘Rediscover’.

He highlighted the MTA’s vision for the rethinking of Malta and Gozo’s tourism industry and the 10-year strategy launched with the Ministry for Tourism at the end of 2021.

He said that the MTA’s Recover/Rethink/Revitalise Strategy makes it clear at the outset that the three-pronged approach to creating a stronger and more competitive tourism industry for the Maltese Islands is one which is being carried out in an overlapping rather than a sequential approach, adding that “we have focused on recovery but have already started our rethinking and the revitalisation will start to take place as the rethinking process progresses”.

He said that, while the number of inbound tourist in 2020 and 2021 was below the one-million mark, due to the pandemic, the numbers for 2022 are very encouraging and are estimated to reach 2,000,000 by the end of the year, which translates to 77% of the 2019 figures.

Air Seat Capacity is back to 78% of pre-pandemic levels (in January to August), with 18 destinations standing close to, or even exceeding pre-pandemic capacity levels. These include Poland (where the MTA will be formally opening its new office in the coming weeks), France, Bulgaria, Italy and The Netherlands.

From January to July, Malta’s biggest source markets for inbound tourism were the United Kingdom (221,108 – 62% of 2019), Italy (190,945 – 88% of 2019), France (137,294 – 106% of 2019), Germany (87,454 – 745 of 2019) and Poland (78,190 – 132% of 2019).

Micallef said that the latest available data collected from airline websites, indicates that air seat capacity for the coming winter season is forecast at 91% of pre-pandemic levels, with the estimated number of inbound tourists being 1,240,000 for November to March, both months included.

He insisted that Malta and Gozo continue to possess the right mix of ingredients to sustain their future as a relevant and successful tourism destinations, further adding that “this is what gives us the confidence to look at the future with hope and optimism.

“The last two years have not only convinced everyone of the importance and relevance of tourism but they have also raised awareness on how important it is to place rethinking and revitalising topmost in our modus operandi.,” he said.

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