The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) calls upon Government to take urgent action and address various difficulties which currently are impacting the tourism industry, risking to seriously damage the identity and reputation of Malta being a truly beautiful and authentic Mediterranean destination.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Malta Tourism Authority have been investing heavily in positioning Malta as the place of choice for one’s vacation by a cross section of the tourist market and indeed complemented by the promotional efforts spearheaded by MHRA members and associates we are together managing to attract record numbers of tourists to our islands. The question, however, one now needs to pose is whether these tourists whom we have all managed to attract are satisfied with what they have experienced in Malta. Is Malta delivering on its promises? Perhaps on some but definitely not all.
Let’s take cleaning and upkeep of our surroundings, this leaves much to be desired. Indeed, as the population increases with more tourists and foreign workers, complemented by shifts of locals to tourism zones during the summer period, the need to better manage cleaning efforts across Malta and Gozo must be taken up with a greater sense of urgency and comprehensively at a national level. Malta has become very shabby and dirty, and this is unacceptable if we are aiming to remain a destination of choice. Cleaning, upkeep, and enforcement must be carried out especially across all the streets of our tourism zones and beaches, and not only designated areas. Better protection of our sea must be taken up as maritime activity is increases dramatically during the summer period. Malta needs more investment, better management, serious enforcement, and immediate action before it becomes too late.
The second area of concern is activity related to road infrastructure by the public sector and the construction projects by the private sector which together are turning Malta into a permanent construction site experience, creating gross inconveniences for both locals and tourists alike. Malta has reached a stage where no locality or street is spared from any construction activity causing noise, dust, and aesthetic pollution. No proper central coordination and management of such activity is in place leading to chaos and long queues of traffic everywhere, all the time. We need to take the bull by the horns as the situation in our streets is in a dire state and will do nothing but put off tourists and their families and friends from ever considering coming back again to our islands.
The third issue is the energy issue which has hit Malta over the past week due to a spike in ambient temperature levels. Many MHRA members have suffered not only financial losses in the form of lost food stock, guests cancelling bookings, damages to equipment which run into thousands of euros but more importantly suffered from reputational damage. Many tourists who found themselves in hotels without electricity have turned to social media complaining that their vacation was ruined with some also giving low scoring reviews to hotels on booking platforms. The same applies to restaurants affected by power cuts whose patrons were disappointed. These restaurants lost precious peak season opportunities as they were not able to function without electric energy.
All of this is leaving a serious negative impact on the current and future business of our hotels and restaurants. The industry recognizes that the temperature spikes in the past days were higher than the average levels however the number of faults and outages seriously affected the industry. Government must ensure action as such events will no longer be considered extraordinary but will be the norm. MHRA expects proactive action to be taken to ensure that there will be no such repeats. The damages to the industry caused in the past days are enormous. Climate change is here to stay, and action must be taken to avoid a repeat next year or after that. Without timely decisions and actions, we will end up in a situation where the damage caused to the image and identity of destination Malta becomes irreparable.
The entrepreneur and the Maltese public in general have been investing heavily in the tourism industry because they believe in the political rhetoric that Malta is a leading tourism destination. It is important therefore that government starts to walk the talk to ensure that Malta doesn’t lose its appeal as a destination of choice.