The Labour Party’s spokesman for tourism, Gavin Gulia, poured cold water on last year’s record in tourism arrivals claiming that half of the 6% increase registered on 2010, was due to the Libya crisis. He said that in February and March 2011, around 20,000 foreign workers, the majority of them Chinese, ended up in Malta as part of the massive evacuation process by sea at the outbreak of the Libyan civil war.
Dr Gulia added that during their stay in Malta, which lasted two days at most, they were confined to their ships and left the country on the first available flight. He said that Tourism Minister Mario de Marco is acknowledging this fact only now after sharp drops were registered this February and March – up to some weeks ago he was completely discarding such claims.
Dr Gulia made these claims in an Opposition news conference in response to that addressed by Dr de Marco on Wednesday.
The Labour MP elaborated further and said that despite the record number of tourists visiting Malta last year, which totalled 1.4 million, there was a 1.9% increase in value added while there was a 0.5% decrease in the wage bills. He added that the increase in profits did not compensate for the increase in expenditure, which effectively meant that their profitability was below that of 2008 and much worse than 2004.
According to Dr Gulia, while in 2004 employees on average earned €24 out of every €100 spent by tourists, in 2011 their share decreased to €20. On the other hand, hotel owners sacrificed a significant part of their profit to remain competitive and from €10 their profit decreased to €8.60 for every €100 spent by tourists in just one year, from 2010 to 2011. He also queried the effectiveness of the higher budget of the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) over the last four years as the return for the extra €14 million invested was a meagre increase of 156,490 tourists.
Regarding the situation in Gozo, he referred to a recent statement from the Gozo Tourism Association which warned that results for 2011 were even worse than for 2010.
(Source: Malta Independent)