Active PR campaign to market Malta on the cards
WITH the launch of Emirates daily flights to Malta, the government is now keen to begin actively promoting the destination across the MENA region. On the anvil are plans to appoint a PR agency to promote Malta as a tourism hotspot in Europe whose product is well defined and all rounded. With a budget of over Euro20 million, the Malta Tourism Authority has begun an aggressive campaign to bring more tourists to the country.
On the cards is also a plan to invite more carriers to fly in to Malta. “We are in constant contact with airlines to increase the number of flights to Malta,” said Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism Dr Mario de Marco.
Currently Emirates is the only carrier offering a daily service to Malta with a stopover in Larnaca, Cyprus, using Boeing 777-200 or 777-300 including belly hold cargo services.
The carrier flew 25,000 passengers one way to Malta. “Dubai is a gateway to the region and we welcomed the decision to move to a daily flight.”
Along with tourism, Malta is keen to promote itself as an ideal destination for language courses, which could prove attractive to many nationals in the region. With close to 1.3 million tourists including 543,000 cruise liner passengers visiting the country last year, 2008 has proved to be a record year.
“It was a great year for tourism. We also registered more than 11million bed nights - an all time record,” said De Marco.
Yet De Marco pointed out that recession had hit the tourism industry across the world and Malta was no exception. “We are suffering like other countries - we started to see a downturn in the last four months of 2008. However, we have still registered an increase of over four per cent on the 2007 figure despite seeing a downturn in the past few months.”
Although people rarely give up travel, the trend is to opt for shorter haul vacations and most holidays are planned at short notice. “Usually, we have people booking their holidays three to five months in advance, but now the lead time is getting as short as three weeks. In a bid to get advance reservations, travel agents are offering heavy discounts.
“This is how things are at the moment and it is difficult to say what might be the trend in 2009,” he added.
In a bid to meet the situation head on, Malta Tourism Authority’s team has been allocated Euro20.9 million (Dh103 million) to promote the country. Europe is the main market for the island nation, followed by Germans and Italians. The French, Russians, Scandinavians and Dutch are next on the list. Malta is also attracting tourists from North African markets such as Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.