[WATCH] Tourism action plan to target numbers and excellence, Clayton Bartolo says

Xtra on TVM | Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo says tourism action plan will be released next month as engagement with stakeholders underway

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo
Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo

A tourism action plan will be released early next year after broad consultation with stakeholders on the way forward, Clayton Bartolo said.

The news comes on the back of a disastrous year for the industry that was one of the worst-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tourism Minister said talks were underway with all concerned parties to lay out a strategy that attracts numbers but also lays emphasis on “excellence”.

Bartolo, who was recently appointed minister in Robert Abela’s reshuffled Cabinet, was speaking on TVM’s Xtra in a debate with Opposition spokesperson Robert Arrigo.

“We are already working on the plan and stakeholder engagement is already underway. If it is not released by the beginning of January then it will only be a little later,” Bartolo said, adding the government is aiming to achieve national consensus on the way forward.
He said during the pandemic the government provided a “very resilient umbrella” that helped save the industry with the aid provided.

Opposition spokesperson Robert Arrigo
Opposition spokesperson Robert Arrigo

However, Arrigo downplayed the investment that the government has made, insisting that its €800 COVID wage supplement is simply “the minimum that one can do”.

Arrigo pointed to countries like France and Germany where the government subsidised up to 85% of employee wages, while further adding that the Maltese government’s €800 are merely the gross amount, with most people finding themselves with just €670 in their hands after taxes.

Arrigo argued that the government should have been more generous, especially where wages are concerned.

“I think that while the European Union said that countries can go all-out to provide aid during this time, we went for the minimum, especially with wages,” he said.

But the minister dismissed the complaint, pointing out that the wage supplement is higher than the minimum wage, and arguing that one has to look at the big picture when drawing up such measures. 

Arrigo said the true test will come once markets reopen, arguing that the government has to focus its expenditure on Air Malta and other airlines that come to Malta, and international advertising.

He bemoaned the lack of a national plan for tourism, saying that Bartolo was the fifth minister for this sector in the last seven years.