Lobby group wants tax exemptions on overtime and part-time income for employees in tourism

Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association calls for tax exemptions on overtime and part-time income earned by employees working in the tourism, travel and hospitality sector in bid to mitigate impact of COVID-19

MHRA president Tony Zahra
MHRA president Tony Zahra

Overtime and part-time income earned by employees in the tourism, travel and hospitality sector should be tax exempt to address labour shortages, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association said.

The lobby group was reacting to complaints on staff shortages experienced by operators in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to do all that is needed to attract and retain employees working in the tourism industry even during such difficult times, as if we get this wrong then the repercussions can be serious,” the MHRA said.

It also called on the government to collaborate more with stakeholders in the sector, especially after Malta was placed on the red list by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control after a spike in cases was registered in the last two weeks.

“The situation still remains complex, and any miscommunication or U-turns leave a significant negative impact both on the image of the Maltese islands as a destination of choice for tourists, and on the bottom line of hotel and restaurant operations,” MHRA said.

The MHRA said government must align its coronavirus policy to the number of infected patients recovering in hospital rather than those being infected not needing hospitalisation.

“Government must pursue its efforts to reduce the number of infected people in order to get back the green status as soon as possible,” it said.

On Monday, 146 new COVID-19 cases were registered while the number of hospitalisations remained static at 18. One person is receiving treatment at the intensive therapy unit.

“We live in very difficult and uncertain times and now is the time when all our efforts must be jointly focused on sustainable solutions,” it said.

The MHRA said “simple and clear” protocols which safeguard people’s health, while reflecting the needs of the economy are needed.

“It’s important to remember that the economy is all of us and that tourism is the heart that pumps the economic blood,” it said.