PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR TOURISM AND CONSUMER PROTECTION Malta puts forward six proposals at the EU Tourism Ministers’ Conference and joins six Member States in calling for mechanisms to spearhead tourism growth after COVID19

While participating in the virtual Minister conference of EU Tourism Ministers, organised by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU, Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli emphasised that despite the fact we have not turned around the COVID-19 crisis, it is imperative the EU launch robust and ambitious plans to revive the tourism industry as soon as possible. 

In her address, Minister Farrugia Portelli highlighted the measures Malta has undertaken to manage this crisis and to mitigate the impact on the tourism sector. She further explained that Malta depends heavily on international tourism to the tune of 25% to 30% of its GDP. Malta has also received praise from international bodies for its management of COVID-19 and thanks to the measures the Government has implemented recently, it has managed to save 83,000 jobs. 
Minister Farrugia Portelli put forward six proposals concerning EU-wide actions:

1. A strong commitment is needed regarding the re-opening of the tourism sector. There are risks which need to be managed. However, new protocols are needed to manage these risks effectively particularly concerning flights, accommodation, and entertainment. 

2. Designate safe corridors between territories and regions which, like Malta, received praise for its successful management of the problem.  

3. EU assistance should not be limited to financial instruments that would burden operators with additional debt but must also include the possibility of grants. Tourism can be the enabler of a wider recovery of our economies. It will pay to invest in it.

4. The recovery strategy must also take into consideration geographic disparities and differences.  For island member states such as Malta, the aviation sector is more than just an integral part of the tourism sector. It is the main bridge to the outside world and is vital for our connectivity. Airlines should be supported as they would be re-starting the economy. 

5. The EU needs to take a definite stand on the package travel directive and air passenger regulation while acknowledging that consumer rights must remain protected at all times, there needs to be a proper balance regarding the voucher proposal to protect the travel sector. The EU needs to look at the unlevel playing field that has been created by individual national policies.   

6. Investment in the upskilling of the workforce and the upgrade of tourism product is needed as this is an opportunity to start afresh by making the tourism industry more sustainable. 

Meanwhile, Malta, together with six other Member States, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Bulgaria presented a joint statement to the European Commission calling for strong financial allocation for tourism in its recovery plan that is being drafted. It is imperative that this plan addresses national specificities, particularly island state economies like Malta, which are dependent on international tourism, and the introduction of new protocols so that tourism can be re-opened. The statement calls for short and long-term measures to assist those tourism associated sectors in mitigating the COVID-19 effects. The statement also acknowledges that the countries situated on the EU periphery are the worst affected and underscores the importance of assisting airlines securing their connectivity.