The MHRA President addresses the 2010 AGM Conference
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“Malta has come a long way over the years, and has proved that it can successfully compete as a Mediterranean destination. This year’s positive results perhaps best underline this.” MHRA’s president George Micallef said in his opening speech of the conference held in conjunction with the Association’s 52nd Annual general Meeting.
MHRA hailed the positive results achieved this year both in terms of arrivals and also tourism earnings, following the negative results of 2009, but pointed out that private enterprise is currently under pressure and facing an increasingly competitive landscape. “It was crucial therefore that the industry is not unnecessarily burdened with increased costs if it is to remain competitive.” Mr. Micallef said, adding that “For tourism to work its magic and deliver its enormous advantages, be it economic, social, cultural and environmental development, businesses need to register profits so they remain sustainable, reinvest and guarantee jobs.”
In his address he referred to the drastic change in the market conditions and the significant growth of online and independent travelling which as gradually replacing tour operator business. He also made reference to the advent of the Low Cost Carriers which had a major influence on how people travel, “Tougher competition and rising costs presented a huge challenge to all of us, and this called for a restructuring of the entire tourism industry, affecting not just airlines but all the players of the tourism sector, who struggled to find ways of how best to survive and safeguard the millions of Euros invested collectively over the years.”
Mr Micallef said. “The recession taught us that people don’t necessarily travel less, they travel differently.” Adding that Information technology will most certainly play a major role in tourism during the years to come, and that we should expect to see exponential growth of the social media and the convergence of offline and online marketing channels. He said that tourism operators need to be creative and innovative and find ways that can help them maximize all chances to sell on value, quality in service and value-added opportunities, away from price cutting. He said that traditionally, the word of mouth has been the most valued factor, but nowadays people can go to for advice to Travellers’ blogs and rating sites such as trip advisor and others which nowadays proliferate the market and play a big role in the decision making process.
Mr. Micallef emphasized that Malta as an island cannot survive without an efficient airline connection, and that the tourism industry has a lot to thank Air Malta for, as it was pivotal to the growth of tourism, adding “The correlation between airline seat capacity and arrivals is undisputed, and that this has to remain government’s priority, as it is the key to the long term sustainability of the tourism industry. “
He concluded his address saying that given the problems linked with our national airline, the challenge and question is, can the figures registered this year be sustained for 2011? He said that MHRA is confident that given goodwill by all those involved, a long term solution can be found, which will be beneficial not only to the airline but indeed to the whole economy. It is therefore crucially important, that all the stakeholders are kept in the loop in the decision making process, as it is odd that there is no one on the steering committee representing tourism.