With bigger cruise ships, Valletta port infrastructure needs expanding

Valletta Cruise Port welcomed its 700,000th passenger this morning as it seeks to expand berthing facilities in the Grand Harbour to accommodate larger ships

MSC Meraviglia brought the 700,000th cruise passenger to Malta
MSC Meraviglia brought the 700,000th cruise passenger to Malta

Expanding berthing facilities in the Grand Harbour is crucial to accommodate the larger cruise ships being built, according to the company operating the Valletta cruise terminal.

Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port, told MaltaToday that until 2022, the cruise liner industry was expecting to see the launch of 90 new ships that were larger than 300 metres.

“We need to strengthen our infrastructure to be able to accommodate these ships if we want to continue growing,” Xuereb said, adding it was important for Malta to be there first.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony held this morning at the Valletta terminal to mark the arrival of the 700,000th passenger this year. Two cruise passengers who had just disembarked from the MSC Meraviglia were gifted a three-day all inclusive break in Malta provided by the Malta Tourism Authority.

The 700,000th cruise liner passenger received an unexpected weekend break
The 700,000th cruise liner passenger received an unexpected weekend break

Xuereb said Valletta Cruise Port expected to end the year with a record 780,000 passenger movements. There will be 340 cruise calls this year. The industry contributed €94 million to the economy in 2016.

Valletta Cruise Port has a pending application in front of the Planning Authority for the expansion of two queues in the direction of the Old Customs House. The land already falls within the concession granted to the Valletta Cruise Port.

“We are seeking a 15-metre extension to the queue so that we will be able to accommodate ships that are larger than 300 metres and we expect the planning process to conclude in the first half of 2018,” Xuereb said.

If the PA clears the project, works will be expected to start the following winter.

However, Valletta Cruise Port would also like to seek further expansion towards the Marsa side of the Valletta Waterfront.

“Various governments have had the vision of expanding the tourism industry all the way to the Marsa Menqa, which will help regenerate that area,” Xuereb said, adding the infrastructure was necessary to cater for further growth in the industry.

Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, present for the event, said government’s vision was to support the cruise industry and was exploring ways of expanding berthing facilities inward towards Marsa.

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