The BOV Deloitte Q4 Tourism Performance Survey was presented virtually by the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), through live streaming on social media. This was an initiative of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, together with the Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection, the Bank of Valletta, the Maltese Tourism Authority and Deloitte, which collectively decided that, in view of the current circumstances presented by the pandemic COVID-19, the conference was to be made available through the internet. This served as good practice for other important meetings in the near future. Usually, this conference attracts hundreds of participants from the tourism and business industry under one roof. Despite being video-conferenced, the response was very positive, and this was indicated in the number of followers that joined over the internet.
The conference took on a different dimension than usual, as the analysis and study carried out by Deloitte were presented in the light of the circumstances that affected tourism through the pandemic of COVID-19.
During the conference, Raphael Aloisio, Leader Financial Advisory of Deloitte, submitted a report in which it was stressed that during the last years tourism increased significantly. However, he flagged that currently everyone is facing the unavoidable reality of COVID-19 that will have a significant impact both on volumes and profits of the sector. Mr Aloisio insisted that everyone should look at the past and the present in order to be realistic and well-informed, without going over the top to ensure that the necessary actions are taken.
He added that stakeholders need to pull together with the authorities in a clear plan to make sure that, when the end of the present plague is closer, the ability of the industry to jump out of the stumbling blocks and kick start the economy will be crucial. Moreover, Mr Aloisio insisted that we must ensure that the hotels remain sustainable in personnel and financially.
MHRA President Tony Zahra stressed the fact that we are going through exceptional circumstances. He reminded that, 30 years ago, we had in Malta two exceptional people for a meeting in a situation where they could not meet because the elements were against them. We are looking into ways to look forward and see how best we can contain the damage. He praised the fact that, in the last few days, there was continuous dialogue with the Minister for Tourism and the government, and added that it is encouraging that together we are approaching this situation collectively on a national level. Following his vast experience in the industry over the past decades, Mr Zahra reminded that Malta has overcome various challenges and whilst reassuring his commitment to the industry, he appealed to his fellow members to bear in mind that everyone is in the same boat, and we should all keep strong and united.
Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli described how the world is in unchartered waters, with tourism globally facing the biggest challenge ever in recent years. Instilling faith in the tourism sector, Minister Farrugia Portelli stated that we will be braving this together as a country. She explained that, only a few weeks ago, together with MHRA and other industry stakeholders, discussions were underway on the need of a vision for the tourism industry for the next 5 to 10 years. She added that, at that time, indications for 2020 were also very positive and January was the best performing January ever. However, the global pandemic of COVID-19 changed the complete scenario to zero tourism. In her address, the Minister expressed the importance of strong and brave decisions at this critical time. She added that in the next few hours, the government will be announcing the first set of measures to aide industry. It should be in everyone's interest to protect thousands of jobs in tourism, until the sector bounces back gracefully.
Present for this conference were also MHRA CEO Andrew Agius Muscat, BOV Chief Credit Officer Albert Frendo, MTA CEO Johann Buttigieg, Consultant in Public Health Medicine within the Office of the Superintendent of Public Health Dr Maya Podesta, Dr Christopher Deguara Advisor at MTF and Dr Michael Frendo, Legal Expert.