MHRA urges hoteliers not to discount rates this summer
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Tourist arrivals in the first quarter this year increased by 6.1 per cent over the same period last year but there was a drop in four and five-star hotel occupancy, according to the Malta Hotels and Restaurants survey published recently.
Guest nights increased by 12.7 per cent and tourist spend by 8.9 per cent. However, occupancy only increased in the three-star hotel category with both four and five star hotels registering drops.
The survey found that occupancy in five star hotels stood at 46.7 per cent – 0.6 per cent lower than in the same period last year and 8.6 per cent less than in the same period in 2001.
Four star hotels had an occupancy of 58.6 per cent, 1.5 per cent less than last year and 8.6 per cent less than in 2011 while three star occupancy stood at 50.2 per cent – 12.4 per cent more than last year and one per cent more than in 2011.
MHRA president Tony Zahra said the new Government had already geared efforts along previous successful tourism policies while spearheading new initiatives to address the challenges the industry was facing.
“It’s going to be the perfect summer… We have the perfect script. There is the weather and the flights… Other countries have problems, such as with flooding…
“It is incredible that you guys… the hoteliers… are discounting your rates…why? I can’t understand this…help yourselves don’t discount rates as you don’t gave to… It makes it hard for us to convince governments that hotels need help to remain sustainable,” he said.
Mr Zahra said that, however, it was not all plain sailing. The Government needed to restore sustainability in the hotel sector by:
Increasing arrivals in the shoulder and winter period to generate increased revenues without increasing costs;lowering utility rates by four cents a kilowatt;returning VAT from the hiked up seven per cent to the original five per cent.
Mr Zahra said the industry was seeing that the government was on track to a 25 per cent reduction in bills by 2015.
As to its call to return VAT to five per cent, it believed this would be a major investment in the wider economy and not just the tourism industry.
MHRA was also confident the measure would pay for itself.
Photographs – Alain Salvary.