Parties cancelled after COVID-19 spike to get refunds on marketing spend

Music festivals targeted at UK tourist market were cancelled in the wake of an increase in COVID-19 cases in July

The organisers behind mass events that were slated to attract mass tourism from the UK market to Malta, will be paid compensation for their marketing costs.

The parties were forced to be cancelled in the wake of an increase in COVID-19 cases in late July, most of which can be traced back to a Radisson hotel party and the Santa Venera feast.

Events organised by party organisers G7 were stopped as pressure mounted against mass events, after a significant cluster were attributed to a weekend-long party organised by G7 at the Radisson in St Julian’s.

But the organisers of several of these parties – with four major events aimed at the UK market throughout the summers – have now lined up for compensation from the tourism ministry.

Four music festivals were planned over the next months despite social distancing measures in place in most establishments. With fantastic line-ups that included British acts like Chase and Status, Aitch, AJ Tracey and Fatboy Slim, the festivals were targeting young British tourists thanks to the UK government’s green light travel list. Rhythm + Waves, Escape 2 the Island, the BPM Festival and Mi Casa were all being advertised online. Another festival on the island, Back to the Future, was cancelled due to low ticket sales.

While no “sponsorship” was paid out by the Malta Tourism Authority for these events, the tourism ministry confirmed with MaltaToday that the organisers were in the process of presenting it with receipts of their “investment in the promotion of Malta”.

No compensation has been yet paid out, the ministry told this newspaper.

“These activities are built on a marketing concept which organisers have to carry out well before these events, to attract thousands of tourists to Malta…

“The government’s healthcare priority was to cancel these events which were expected to leave €25 million in the country’s economy,” the ministry said.

“However, the MTA is informed that a considerable number of these tourists who were planning a Malta holiday will still be flying to the island, even though these events have been cancelled.”

The rise in COVID-19 cases led to a backlash from doctors’ unions and associations, with industrial action launched in a bid to force the government’s hand and stop mass events.

Last week MaltaToday reported that four venues catering to mass events, two of them in Paceville, were shut down, as authorities enforced new regulations introduced this week in a bid to curtail a new spike in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The venues were forced to shut down after health authorities traced a tourist who has tested positive to coronavirus to the four establishments. The inspectors ordered the venues to carry out a full sanitation exercise and to provide detailed certification from the company carrying out the sanitation. Venues that can accommodate more than 100 people will have to carry out a risk assessment prior to going ahead with the event.

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