The Malta Tourism Authority's budget was increased by €3.5million to €26 million and another €2 million are earmarked for 2010 to cushion the turbulent times the industry is expected to face.

In fact, the measures for tourism were very much intended as an incentives package aimed to help the all important sector through the slump that many economists are predicting as a result of the global financial crisis and the effect it will have on the spending power of would-be tourists.

In this vein, the tax ceiling for families' hosting language students has also been increased to €3,500 per annum, making the venture more attractive.

However, as from next January a contribution of €0.50 per passenger per night - both incoming and outgoing - in hotels and private accommodation will have to be paid by both Maltese and tourists. The measure is being introduced to make up for the €16.5 and €30 per passenger which the government estimates it is forking out to sustain low-cost airlines.

Overall, €120 have been allocated for tourism-related projects, which include the embellishment of popular seaside areas such as St Paul's Bay, Qawra and Sliema, Għadira Bay, Golden Bay and Ramla l-Ħamra.

Another €36 million will go for the restoration of bastions, including those of Mdina. Similarly, €9.5 million have been allocated for the preservation of prehistoric temples in Tarxien, Ġgantija and St Paul's Catacombs in Rabat.

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