During the fourth MCESD meeting this year, discussions centred on the detailed report prepared by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), a member of the MCESD Council, regarding the country’s carrying capacity with a focus on tourism and associated infrastructure. Social partners provided meaningful reactions to Malta’s potential tourism capacity, as outlined in the report commissioned by MHRA and prepared by Deloitte Malta. The presentation took place before the entire MCESD Council, in the presence of Hon. Andy Ellul, the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Dialogue, and Hon. Clayton Bartolo, the Minister for Tourism.
The MHRA President, Mr. Tony Zahra, introduced the topic, emphasising the significant role of the tourism industry in Malta. He highlighted that the report indicated Malta would need to attract 4.7 million tourists to accommodate the planned increase in hotel accommodations. Mr. Zahra forecasted a 2.5% increase in tourists visiting Malta in 2024 compared to 2019.
During Deloitte Malta‘s presentation by Mr. Michael Zarb, concerns regarding Malta’s capacity to handle increasing tourist numbers were expressed, particularly in crowded zones like beaches, historical sites, and urban centres. The report proposed prioritising tourism management in these areas and the implementation of visitation controls to mitigate adverse impacts on residents’ quality of life.
The report also raised concerns on the capacity of Malta’s infrastructure, notably the strained sewage system in key tourist areas. Existing volume levels were observed to negatively impact both the tourist experience and the residents’ quality of life. Challenges additional included environmental impacts, and workforce shortages. Recommendations centre on the choices available to Government to achieve sustainable tourism growth.
The social partners thanked the MHRA for commissioning the study, emphasising the necessity for robust and strategic planning to bolster tourism in the face of stiff competition. They endorsed initiatives and projects aimed at enhancing Malta’s appeal while addressing residents’ and the local labour force’s concerns. Stressing the importance of preserving the quality of life for Maltese and Gozitan residents, they urged comprehensive analysis and strategic planning in key areas including workforce, development, transport, and retail. Furthermore, the social partners highlighted the necessity for increased investments to improve accessibility in less frequented areas, particularly beaches. Waste management also emerged as a significant topic in the discussions among the social partners.
Minister Clayton Bartolo welcomed the social partners’ feedback and stressed the importance of balancing quality and quantity in tourism. He highlighted government initiatives to improve connectivity and draw more visitors, particularly from the American market and higher spending profile locations in Europe and Asia. However, he underlined that the Government has no plan to attract tourism volumes of 4.7 million as projected in the report, urging hoteliers to invest prudently given fierce competition.
The Parliamentary Secretary for Social Dialogue, Hon. Andy Ellul, remarked, “I am encouraged by the comprehensive discussions at the MCESD meeting, where the MHRA’s report shed light on Malta’s tourism challenges. It is imperative for us to balance growth with sustainability, taking into account the concerns raised by social partners, as we strive to enhance our appeal without compromising the quality of life for our residents.”
During the second part of the meeting, Kooperativi Malta were invited to the MCESD Council to present the contribution to Malta’s socio-economic development. The CEO of Kooperativi Malta, Mr. Daniel Schembri, highlighted the important role of cooperatives in various fields that sustain many social and economic enterprises and contribute to the socio-economic well-being of the nation. Social partners responded with enthusiasm to the efforts of Kooperativi Malta and appreciated the importance of collaboration on a number of initiatives.
- You may access the presentation on the Carrying Capacity Study for Tourism in the Maltese Islands here.
- You can access the full report on the Carrying Capacity Study for Tourism in the Maltese Islands here.
- You may access the presentation on Kooperativi Malta from here.