[WATCH] ‘Increasing sunbeds’ part of new national tourism policy

Tourism Minister urges tour operators to diversify business operations or ‘risk going out of business’

Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis launches the National Tourism Policy 2015-2020
Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis launches the National Tourism Policy 2015-2020
Launch of national tourism policy

The national tourism policy offers development on rocky beaches as a possible solution to the “existing density pressures on sandy beaches.”

“Efforts are being made to find environmentally and aesthetically sensitive and reversible ways to facilitate access and use of the rocky coastline.. provide decks or similar for sunbathing and other provisions such as bins, swimming zones, security and lifesaving equipment,” the policy reads.

The National Tourism Polic, launched today by tourism minister Edward Zammit Lewis, envisages sustainability of the tourism sector and increased competitiveness.

“This document is not just a governmental document but it was initiated and crafted by private companies for the people,” Zammit Lewis said.

He reiterated that the decision to renew the policy, was made last July, based on the rapid and constant changes occurring in international markets and competition, and that the plan was progressing according to the set time-line.

Zammit Lewis stressed that new digital developments have changed the way that tourism works;

“Tour operators may soon go out of business if they do not adapt to the changing realities,” he explained.

Zammit Lewis said that the digital challenges facing tour operators could ultimately lead to them going out of business as more and more people would opt for online booking.

“The policy highlights the importance of embracing the digital platform to develop the local industry in this way,” Zammit Lewis said.

“It is essential to have a collective response to this policy, as it presents various of horizontal issues which involve other ministries aside from tourism,” Zammit Lewis said explaining that the policy involved plans for better infrastructure and transport solutions among others.

Zammit Lewis referred to NSO statistics published last Monday showing tourism arrivals were up by 6% in January 2015, compared to the same period last year. He added that he looked forward and was confident that there would be even better results in February.

“This initiative, which had been originally recommended by the Malta Hotels and Restaurant Association (MHRA), is a realization of 2 electoral promises regarding tourism and the development of tourism in Gozo” Zammit Lewis explained, adding that the policy targeted issues like better connectivity to the sister island and the promotion of certain niche markets typical to the island.

Zammit Lewis pointed out that the main challenges of this document would ultimately remain the improvement of the touristic product our country offers.

“We need to offer a better product if we are to expect a better revenue from tourism,” he explained.

Zammit Lewis also stressed the importance of managing figures of tourism that we have so far by spreading the numbers of tourists to the shoulder months and tackling the issues of seasonality.

Malta Tourism Authority Marketing Director Leslie Vella pointed out that the policy which targets the years 2015- 2020, was a part of a much broader fifteen-year framework, and that it would change and adapt as required.

The policy deals with issues like connectivity to the Maltese islands, and ensuring that more destinations have access to Malta, tapping into new tourism markets in growing markets, and strengthening cruise markets among others.