MHRA wants talks on collection of €5 eco-tax

Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association says 2016 Budget will “take the economy to the next level.”

Despite its initial misgivings, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) refrained from criticising the €5 eco-tax imposed on tourists and said it should not adversely impact tourists’ numbers to Malta “if managed well.”

MHRA stressed that the method of collection should be further discussed to ensure fair distribution and avoid abuse. In its initial reaction MHRA, welcomed the Budget which it said will “take the economy to the next level.”

MHRA commended government for its continued efforts to consolidate its fiscal position and the reduction in the fiscal deficit from 2.1% of GDP in 2014 to 1.1% in 2016.

The association underlined the Budget’s financial prudence which it said would contribute to strengthening the macro- economic fundamentals of the economy and “ensure sustainability of economic gains in the long term.”

“MHRA is encouraged to note that the Budget unveiled today, recognises both short-term and long-term economic needs by significantly setting the right foundations for a sustainable tourism model,” the association said.

Noting that over the past years the tourism sector has been a major contributor to economic growth MHRA called upon the authorities not to take this important sector for granted.

It said measures announced in relation to incentivising investment in energy efficiency by the hospitality sector were a “step in the right direction.”

“After the reduction of 25% in energy utility bills benefited by our members earlier this year, the efficiency incentives announced in the Budget today will further support the hospitality sector to become autonomous in managing such an important cost in the operation,” MHRA said.

MHRA also welcomed the investment in a new Institute of Tourism Studies “as human resources are key to the tourism sector.”

It also noted that the additional €1 million allocated to the MTA need to be spent on efforts to tap new markets and extend the seasonality spread.

MHRA recognised efforts to encourage the private sector’s involvement in the management, maintenance and upgrading of tourism zone areas through a PPP model and a restructured Tourism Zone Development Foundation.

In addition the MHRA reiterated its position and called upon government to eradicate the practice of unlicensed accommodation which is unfairly competing with legitimate businesses and contributing to significant losses in Government revenues.

“MHRA is also pleased that government has recognised its’ efforts to promote Malta as a leader in the Mediterranean region through the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation in spearheading tourism as a vehicle for peace and stability in the region. It welcomes its government’s support and contribution to this important initiative which will would bare fruit in the medium to long term.”