Transport, maintenance and cleaning are in ‘critical’ situation, Tony Zahra says

MHRA chairman Tony Zahra emphasises importance of tourist quality over numbers, as statistics show further growth

Areas such as transport, maintenance and cleaning are in a critical situation in Malta, MHRA chairman Tony Zahra said
Areas such as transport, maintenance and cleaning are in a critical situation in Malta, MHRA chairman Tony Zahra said

Malta’s population growth is exposing the country’s weaknesses, and certain areas, such as transport, maintenance and cleaning are in crisis, Tony Zahra said.

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association chairman was speaking after BOV-Deloitte’s hotels performance figures for the April to June 2018 period were announced, indicating that the growth in Malta’s tourism sector has remained strong.

Zahra said that now that Malta had managed to achieve high numbers when it came to tourist visits, it was time to start looking at the quality of the visitors we attract.

“Quality is going to make the difference between moving forward when the wind comes to our sails, or, having a problem when the wind turns against us.”

He highlighted that in certain areas, Malta was still lacking and needed to make forward strides.

“When it comes to cleanliness, we are using the same systems which were in use 20 years ago. We cannot solve the problem this way – we need a fresh look at the situation,” he said.

“Regarding, maintenance, we need to start moving here too. You can’t spend too little on maintenance, and you can’t set up an infrastructure and not maintain it, or you’ll have what Italy had – a broken down bridge.”

“In the case of transportation, it’s all well and good to widen the roads and hopefully we will see some improvement. But is this all we want? We could look at things such as water transportation, and the tunnel underneath Valletta.”

He also underscored that Malta had to get its act together in terms of ensuring that rules related to things such as littering, parking, and so on, are enforced.

MHRA chairman Tony Zahra (file photo)
MHRA chairman Tony Zahra (file photo)

“We have a lot of authorities – we must be in the Guinness Book of Records for this, but enforcement is sadly lacking. We really need to start getting ourselves organised. If tourists see litter here, cranes there, badly parked cars… they might not like Malta, and they won’t visit again,” he added.

Hotel sector’s overall performance strong

Throughout April to June this year, hotel sector growth remained strong overall, National Statistics Office figures indicate, with higher average daily rates, increased occupancy and sustained profitability levels.

Guest nights in private accommodation, such as rented apartments, increased by over 25% in the second quarter of 2018, while the number of nights spent in hotels increased by 12%.

Tourists spent more money on the island, with expenditure increasing by 10% compared to the same period last year.

When it comes to hotels, occupancy rates stand at 83% for five star and 89% for four star hotels, Deloitte financial advisory leader Raphael Aloisio said, as he remarked that this was very close to the maximum which can realistically be expected.

On a year to date basis, the first six months of 2018 received more than a million tourists, and hotels accommodated more than 7.6 million guests, the statistics show.

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