[WATCH] Malta taking ‘optimistic but cautious’ approach on tourists’ return – PM

Prime Minister Robert Abela says arrangements for vaccine passports have already been carried out at a national level, and all that Malta needs is European approval

Prime Minister Robert Abela
Prime Minister Robert Abela

Malta will be taking an optimistic but cautious approach for the return of tourists in the country next Tuesday, Prime Minister Robert Abela said.

As from 1 June, tourists arriving in the country must present a vaccination certificate or submit a negative test before boarding an aircraft.

“We have to strike a balance between the economy and the people’s health,” Abela said.

The PM was speaking during a political discussion streamed on the party’s social media channels and television station.

Abela said the return of tourism is vital, contributing to around one third of the country’s economy. “The advantage we have is that a large percentage of the population is now fully vaccinated.”

Government, he said, will be taking a balanced approach, but insisted on the importance that the tourism industry returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Intercontinental acting general manager Neil Debono also spoke during the discussion, underlying the significance of the wage-supplement scheme rolled out by government to keep businesses afloat.

“It was a lifesaver for a number of industries, helping them to keep people employed, and preventing them from closing down,” Debono said.

He also said the wage-supplement scheme must be retained until at least the end of the year due to the market’s volatile nature.

Speaking on European Council meetings earlier this week, Abela said that leaders congratulated him and the country for being among the first to reach herd immunity.

“While vaccine procurement was carried out within a European framework, we are seeing the results of our diligent decisions,” he said.

The PM said the country will also soon be celebrating another important milestone – the rolling out of the vaccine passport.

It will allow for free travel among European countries, while also be used for admission into “high risk activities.”

Abela said that at a national level, all preparations have been carried out, and all that remains is a European go-ahead.

“Even for vaccine passports, like in every aspect of the pandemic, we were at the forefront during discussions,” he said.

The PM also said that the continued success of the property market signals people confidence in government.

Speaking on the last four years under a Labour government, Abela said this administration has been characterized by investment in people.

“We never forgot the social needs of the country both before and during the pandemic, having rolled out more than €1 billion in social investment,” he said.

He also stated government wants to introduce more long-term investment through a “robust framework” which continues to attract foreign investors.

“We aim to continue down this path for the years to come,” he said.

Frontliner Yorgen Souness, Birzebbug deputy mayor Scott Camilleri and notary Nicolette Vella also spoke during the political event.