Cruise liner traffic expected to exceed 700,000 mark this year
More than 700,000 cruise liner passengers are expected to visit Malta by the end of the year, which would make 2016 an absolute record for cruise lining in Malta, Tourism Minister Edward Zammit Lewis said yesterday.
The minister was speaking at the launch of the Malta Cruise Network Forum – a committee made up of interested parties which will serve to promote Malta as a cruise lining destination of excellence and come up with recommendations on how to strengthen the sector further.
Dr Zammit Lewis said 307 cruise liners called at the Grand Harbour last year, an increase of four over the previous year. According to NSO statistics, they carried upwards of 670,000 passengers. This marked an increase of 30% over 2014. A study commissioned by Valletta Cruise Port showed that the industry left a profit of €90 million in 2015.
Figures for this year indicated that 2016 will be another record year. 17 cruise liners visited between January and March – an increase of 8 over the corresponding period of 2015.
Around 450,000 passengers had visited Malta by the end of September, which marked a 6% increase over the same period in 2015. Valletta Cruise Port estimates that cruise passenger traffic this year will exceed the 700,000 mark.
Dr Zammit Lewis said that, in view of these results, the government felt the need to form a forum which will be tasked with bringing greater synergy within the sector. The not-for-profit forum, which will fall under the Malta Tourism Authority, will discuss initiatives to further strengthen the sector. These include promoting Malta as a destination of excellence, improving quality and making Malta more attractive for homeporting.
The forum is made up of representatives of the Tourism Ministry, the MTA, Valletta Cruise PPort, Transport Malta, the Ministry for Gozo, Malta International Airport, Heritage Malta, the Ship Agents Association, the General Retailers and Traders Union, the Chamber of Commerce and the Foundation for the Development of Tourist Zones.