PwC survey shows level of anxiety in hotel industry
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PwC survey shows level of anxiety in hotel industry

Human resources is the topmost concern for the hotel industry. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Human resources is the topmost concern for the hotel industry. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Thirty-five per cent of the hotel industry is concerned that Malta’s strong economic performance will lead to overheating – which will have an adverse effect on the industry in general, according to PwC Malta’s third market barometer.

The barometer looks at some of the key challenges facing hotels, an important pillar in Maltese economy.

It considers the views of over 50 hotels, which represent the respective star-category and geographical areas, and was carried out during October. The results, while confirming that 2018 was another intense and successful year, provides evidence that indicate some anxiety within the industry.

The level of anxiety is also highlighted in the outlook for the forthcoming six months. Only 25 per cent of respondents expressed a positive outlook, compared to 74 per cent in 2017 and 85 per cent in 2016.

The sentiment in 2018 organically shifted towards a stable outlook, which is represented by the replies of 58 per cent of the hotel operators who participated in the barometer. Seventeen per cent of the industry has a negative outlook for Q4 of 2018 and Q1 in 2019. The results of the barometer are analysed by the geographical location of hotels. This analysis confirms once again that hotels in the St Julian’s area continue to be most upbeat.

Over the last six months, 57 per cent of the hotels who participated in this market analysis stated that the level of business increased, in contrast to 15 per cent who have experienced a drop in business and 28 per cent who registered a consistent level of business.

Human resources is the top-most concern for the industry. Thirty-three per cent of the participants in the barometer indicate a level of difficulty to recruit the appropriate level of employees to run their operation. While the recruitment of expatriates appears to be managing this challenge, the results of the barometer put forward a strong appeal to the relevant stakeholders to position hospitality as a long-term career in vocational colleges and other educational institutions and facilitate an environment where the financial package of employees in the industry increases.

“Only 25 per cent of respondents expressed a positive outlook for the next six months, compared to 74 per cent in 2017 and 85 per cent in 2016”

Only 22 per cent of the operators in the barometer believe that the strategy to address the human resources challenge should continue to focus only on the recruitment of non-Maltese workers.

An emerging concern within the industry surrounds business being propelled by new trends in accommodation, namely the surge in the rental markets and online portals which facilitate this. Other common concerns relate to the level of investment in the local infrastructure and the higher incidence of lower-spending tourists.

When questioned specifically on the level of investment being made by the government to sustain Malta as an attractive destination, a significant 70 per cent of hoteliers state that the current level of investment is inadequate. The concentration of such feedback is stronger among operators in the central area of Malta.

The barometer also assesses the sensitivity of hoteliers to the environment. Thirty-four per cent of the industry suggest that efforts to maintain the cleanliness of beaches should be stepped up. Another 23 per cent favour further forestation projects, while 18 per cent wish that increased efforts are made to preserve village cores.

Fifty-two per cent of the respondents were positive about the extent of planning and coordination between the various stakeholders involved in the local accommodation industry, in contrast to 38 per cent who feel that there is a lack of such coordination and 10 per cent who replied as being unsure.

David Valenzia, Territory Senior Partner at PwC, stated that the local hotel industry has been agile and successful in managing the record travel volumes of the past years.

“Adapting to changing business trends is a challenge for all hoteliers. Increased tourism in Malta fuelled by global trends in tourism, low-cost airlines, and Valletta 2018 has brought with it certain challenges in human resources, demands from clients in terms of the experience that they expect, and new competition due to the advent of online portals.

“The barometer suggests that the local industry has a cautiously optimistic outlook and while business in the next months is expected to be fairly strong, the industry should place a spotlight on the key challenges it is facing and in the process adapt to the evolving demands of guests and the new channels of customer interaction”.

The full results of the barometer are available on www.pwc.com/mt.

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