EU presidency; hotel price hikes not expected to deter average tourist – Edward Zammit Lewis
While Malta’s high-end hotels gear themselves for the conferences taking place in Malta during the 2017 EU Council Presidency, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis discusses how this will not deter the average tourist.
“As with other conferences and meetings, the EU Presidency attracts business delegates who can afford to stay in the top categories of accommodation.
“This is why these higher spending segments are amongst those which the Ministry and the MTA are actively pursuing. This does not exclude or negatively affect other categories of visitors who will seek lower categories of hotel or alternative types of accommodation.”
An exercise was carried out by The Malta Independent where a comparison was made with the prices of 15 four-star and five-star hotels around Malta for one night in the second week of November and one night on the third week of January. Out of 15 hotels, nine had increased their prices, four left the prices unchanged and two had actually decreased their prices.
The price increases range from a significant €79 to a measly €6 increase. Between the months of January and March 2017, a number of conferences are expected to be held in relation to the EU presidency. Such months are typically shoulder ones with hotel and accommodation typically reducing room rates. Asked about this, Minister Zammit Lewis said:
“The EU Presidency is one of those events which attract higher inflows of visitors, and as any other country around the world, Malta is no exception to market forces including the fluctuation of hotel rates on the basis of supply and demand.
“Normally the market will revert back to a natural state of equilibrium soon after the event has passed. Furthermore, the period of Malta’s Presidency includes the three traditionally leaner months of January to March during which demand is lower thereby dampening accommodation prices.
“An event such as the Presidency contributes positively to hotel profitability by attracting rates traditionally demanded during busier months.”
Discussing airline capacity throughout next winter, Dr Zammit Lewis added:
“It is also worth bearing in mind that, notwithstanding the benefits that the EU Presidency is expected to generate, this coming winter season is expected to generate strong tourism growth across the board owing to Malta’s success in attracting impressive airline seat capacity increases during the low season.
“This welcome growth will continue to reduce the negative effects of seasonality thus further strengthening Malta’s profile as the Mediterranean’s least seasonal destination.
“2017 is also forecast to be a milestone year for Malta in view of the fact that the record two million tourist benchmark is expected to be surpassed for the first time ever.
“All of this is very much in line with government’s published 2014 Tourism Policy which focused on a managed tourism growth strategy based on the attraction of higher value tourism spread more evenly throughout the 12 calendar months.”
Turning to issues of maintenance and upkeep in the busier touristic areas, he said:
“During the EU Presidency, but not only then, the Ministry will be collaborating with other entities to ensure that Malta is seen as much as possible at its best in all aspects. This was the reasoning behind the introduction of the environmental contribution earlier this year, the proceeds from which will be used for the upkeep and embellishment of tourism zones.
“We will also continue and take the opportunity of the many high profile visitors to strongly market Malta in preparation for Valletta European Capital of Culture 2018, during which year we would also expect to host a better mix of tourists.
“In conclusion, the past three years have seen Malta strengthening its positioning as a leading Mediterranean conference destination and the sector is in line for further expansion as the newly set up Conventions Malta enables the destination to tap more effectively into previously unreachable markets and segments. The EU Presidency is but one additional step towards the realisation of these objectives,” he said.
Normally the market will revert back to a natural state of equilibrium soon after the event has passed