MHRA welcomes today’s MEPA decision on height limitations
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The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA)said it welcomed the news given today by Parliamentary secretary Michael Farrugia and Minister Karmenu Vella that Hotels in designated tourist areas will be allowed to construct an additional two floors over the present height limitation.
MHRA explained that some 24 months ago, it had commenced discussions with the Government of the day to extend the then existing policy whereby in certain areas within Sliema and St. Julians it was permitted for hotels to exceed the height limitations by 2 storeys.
It was further explained that the hotel industry was undergoing changes in so far as the consumers were opting more and more for bed only basis and therefore revenue from the Food and Beverage was falling. Hence it was necessary for the Food and Beverage revenue to be replaced with room revenue wherever possible, to help the hotel industry remain sustainable.
“Government had accepted this proposal following a lengthy process of wide consultation with all the stakeholders including public consultation meetings held by MEPA at their Floriana offices. The whole process was finished in January 2013 and there was unanimous political consensus for implementation of this proposal which then became policy. However, due to the election campaign the actual launch of the policy was delayed till after the election and the installation of the new government,” MHRA said.
MHRA said it is very pleased to note that Government has now quickly and efficiently implemented the policy as was already agreed.
MHRA further stated that “the sustainability of the hotel industry has been weakened over the last years by the high cost of energy (which is the highest in the EU 28 countries) and further impacted by the increase in VAT from 5% to 7% two years ago. This was all absorbed by the hoteliers since the consumer is only interested in the final price that he pays and not what the vat rate is.”
MHRA said it is “pleased that there is now a government commitment to decrease the cost of energy by 5 cents per kw within 2 years, and is now lobbying government to bring the vat rate back to 5%.”
MHRA President Tony Zahra said “The hotel industry has a great multiplier effect on the economy and it is essential that enough funds remain in the hotel industry to be able to carry out renovation and upgrading at periods not exceeding ten years.
“Given that there are more than 110 hotels in Malta and Gozo this means that at least 11 hotels will be undergoing major refurbishing every year and this is a great boost to the building industry and the economy. This will ensure we keep our hotel product fresh and up to date. For sure this is a win win situation and we are happy to see that both political parties agree that the Tourism industry must remain healthy and vibrant if Malta’s economy is to remain healthy and vibrant.”