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Report points to the highs and lows of tourism in Malta

Parking problems, poor signage and the level of cleanliness among the negatives listed by tourists

Tourism Minister Karmenu Vella said today that while Malta was seeing record figures in terms of tourist arrivals, numbers were not the only way to measure successful tourism market. One had to look at product quality, profitability, and sustainability among other things. 

"This is not the kind of competition we are hoping for in the future... we'd rather compete on quality than on prices," he said, adding that he would rather see less visitors who, however, were spending more.

The minister was speaking during the launch of the Tourism Product of the Maltese Islands Report that gives a snapshot of the tourism landscape and makes over 200 recommendations to improve the product.

The document was launched this afternoon at the National Aquarium in Qawra.

The idea is to turn the recommendations into a Product Implementation Plan.

Tourism Authority CEO Josef Formosa Gauci said 2013 was a record year in terms of arrivals, nights spent here by tourists, and tourist spending. The MTA had worked to ensure easier accessibility to the island and that the product was attractive and met expectations.

The MTA, he said, had commissioned the report to analyse the product. It was carried out by George Micallef.  

Mr Micallef gave an overview of the report that was compiled over 10 months.

He said the sun and sea were still important factors in the Maltese product.

Research showed that parking problems, poor signage and the level of cleanliness were among the negatives listed by tourists.

Eight per cent of visitors said they would not return to Malta, complaining of a dirty environment, excessive building, bad experiences with accommodation, poor transport and unfriendly locals.

The report underlines the importance of improving aesthetics in tourism zones.

It says there needs to be more investment, including accommodation, in historic cities, better parking and public convenience among other things.

There was the need to improve signage and information centers and review  transport services between tourism zones and historic areas.

The report makes recommendations to improve the management of beaches and speaks about reviewing accommodation policies in order to improve quality.

The report also touches upon restaurants, bars and entertainment areas, diving tourism, tour guides and staff training.

"We need to send a strong message out there that Malta is a destination for all seasons. We need to provide a range of activities to give visitors something to do," the minister said.

The report adds that business travel had a lot of potential as did English language courses, health and wellness, sports and adventure, film shooting, tourism and religious tourism.

On Gozo, the report recommends a portal for domestic tourism and schemes for attractive ferry prices.

The report stresses on quality such as the setting up of quality assurance structures and the need to measure sustainability. Tourist capacity must be sustained also to ensure that the hospitality of the Maltese does not turn into hostility due to strained services, the report says.

The report will be uploaded onto the MTA website.

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