Editorial | Client-to-client tourism is a reality that needs curating

Tourism will remain an important driver of Malta’s economy and everything must be done to ensure the product remains competitive


Client-to-client tourism has been a big development in the industry over the past decade with AirBnb being one of the foremost platforms offering this service.

Malta is not immune to this change. Client-to-client tourism to Malta is believed to constitute a growing chunk of the market.

information from the National Statistics Office shows that between January and May this year, the number of tourists coming to Malta increased by 2.8%.

Significantly, the number of tourists who chose to stay in ‘other rented accommodation’ rose by 13.9%, while those staying in collective accommodation dropped.

The vast majority of tourists who come to Malta still stay in hotels but there is another market out there that cannot be ignored.

Hotel owners have long been complaining on what they describe as unfair competition posited by these client-to-client operations.

They insist that unlike hotels that have to pay various taxes and licences, these house operations are unregulated and do not adhere to standards expected of collective establishments.

The concerns are real but it would be a mistake to fight this phenomenon.

AirBnb tourism is a reality driven by the market itself. It will continue to grow but it will never replace hotels because there is a large market segment out there that prefers staying in hotels with all the amenities they offer.

What has to be done is proper regulation to allow these client-to-client operations to function within set standards.

Rules already exist that require client-to-client operations to register with the Malta Tourism Authority. These operations are also obliged to pay the eco-contribution and relevant income taxes.

The State has to ensure that taxes due from these operations are collected, bringing to the sector a modicum of fair play.

It is in Malta’s interest to ensure that client-to-client operations offer tourists a good quality product so as not to sour the country’s reputation.

At the same time, hotels must continue to be creative in their offerings to tourists. Constant investment in amenities, entertainment and services will ensure they remain relevant to an ever-selective market.

Tourism will remain an important driver of Malta’s economy and everything must be done to ensure the product remains competitive.

The recent enforcement operation by the MTA to close down a hotel in Sliema because of poor standards is commendable. No stone should be left unturned in protecting the island’s reputation from the cowboys, who risk ruining it for everyone.

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