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'Sweeping the streets with domestic brooms not enough' – MHRA chief

Population growth: cleaning, maintenance, transport in crisis

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

MHRA president Tony Zahra on Friday warned that population growth was exposing weaknesses and certain sectors such as cleaning, maintenance and transport were in “crisis”.

In his concluding remarks during an MHRA event, Mr Zahra said the same public cleaning systems put in place 20 years ago were still in place today. He said having a person sweeping the streets with a domestic broom was not the solution.

Mr Zahra called on authorities charged with safeguarding the environment to act as they were obliged to and empowered by law, before it was too late.  

The MHRA president reminded that these authorities were funded by taxpayers to protect the citizen, the consumer and the industries that were supporting this buoyant economy, by means of enforcing regulations.

Mr Zahra said success in the tourism industry could not be taken for granted.

He said there was still a long list of deficient product issues from both the public and private sectors, admitting that the private sector was also sometimes guilty when it packed a pavement with tables and chairs, blocking off its use.

He said great arrival statistics were exposing the faults within the island’s system, reminding that tourism was not just about the numbers, but also creating a destination which could provide a positive experience and an improved standard of living for both locals and visitors.

He spoke of the need to target niche markets, making Malta a destination of choice for films, music, sport and culture.

“We need to polish this rough diamond that we managed to carve out, after a lot of efforts by all stakeholders. Our aim should be to create Destination Malta, a destination built on quality and not only numbers,” he said.

Touching on the long-term sustainability of the industry, Mr Zahra said there was a need to increase the value-added by the industry, as well as the average spending by tourists.

During Friday’s event, the MHRA released its second quarter hotel survey results.
Five-star hotels reported a three per cent increase in room rates which was partially offset by a drop of 2.2 per cent in non-accommodation income. Payroll costs were up by 3.2 per cent over the same quarter.

Four-star hotels reported stronger overall performance for the second quarter.
Occupancy levels increased by 5.2 per cent, from 84.9 per cent in Q2 2017 to 89.4 per cent in Q2 this year.

Costs in the four-star sector increased by 11.8 per cent, driven mainly by marketing costs, administration and general and direct expenses. Payroll costs during this period increased by 8.1 per cent.

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