PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR TOURISM: “Tourism collaboration in the Mediterranean region is paramount to ensure a success destination tourism industry”

Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis said that collaboration between the destinations in the Mediterranean region is paramount to ensuring a thriving tourism industry within one of the world’s major environmental, cultural and tourism resources, during his address at the fourth Mediterranean Tourism Forum.

Tourism is a key industry and a major economic pillar for most Mediterranean countries. According to the World Tourism Organisation the Mediterranean region hosted 229 million international inbound tourists in 2016 and accounts for close to a third of global tourism income, and almost 20% of the world cruise market.

The Tourism Minister said that the prospects for tourism in our region appear to be very positive, yet the challenges facing this part of the world are also equally demanding. Mediterranean destinations do not only compete with one another, but also with destinations outside the region. ”Moreover political developments from the rise of populist movements in Europe to upsetting civil war and political unrest in Near East and North African countries are a threat to this industry’s sustainability in the Mediterranean Region,” explained Minister Zammit Lewis.

He emphasised that over the past years more countries in the region had to contend with the pressure of a market characterised by excess supply and over-capacity, as today’s consumers rightly fully exploit the ever-increasing choice and diversity of experiences on offer. The weakness in the differentiating elements of their offer is making it more difficult for consumers to select such destinations based on their perceived diversity.

The Mediterranean region hosts considerable natural resources, ecological biodiversity, and a 46,000 km stretch of coast line. ”Hence the safeguarding of the inestimably valuable cultural heritage of this ‘cradle of civilisation’, puts on us another heavy and important burden of responsibility of a global legacy we are morally obliged to pass on to future generation”, said Minister Zammit Lewis.

The Minister continued that in the globalised market in which we operate, one sees a strong scope for marketing the Mediterranean as actually one destination. ”I strongly believe that we should look more at the opportunities presented by regional collaboration and therefore take up opportunities presented to us, such as in this forum, to look beyond the horizon, and exploit current and developing trends to position and brand the Mediterranean effectively on the international market, exploiting the wealth of our offer,” continued Dr Zammit Lewis.

The Minister added that ”Malta’s Presidency of the EU comes at a time when we and our European partners are looking for much required renewed momentum and a paradigm shift in political thinking to rebuild trust in the European project in a viable and sustainable way”. Consequently at the end of May the Maltese Presidency will be organising a Tourism High Level Conference to look at ways to strengthen tourism in Europe. ”In doing so we are looking at developments which are dominating the tourism agenda in Europe and beyond, including the sharing economy, digitalisation, as well as connectivity and the use of digital media,” added the Minister For Tourism.

”Now more than ever, Malta stands uniquely placed to act as a catalyst for change in the region”, said Minister Edward Zammit Lewis. For obvious geographical and market-related reasons, discussions about European tourism cannot, and are not, being held in a regional vacuum.

Finally the Minister emphasised on the importance of the creation of the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation, the brainchild of the MHRA. The Foundation was established with the clear aim to promote the sustainable growth of Mediterranean economies, hence creating the right foundations for peace and stability within the region.

The Foundation is providing an effective platform where the issues central to the successful and sustainable development of tourism within the Mediterranean can be discussed and analysed. “And that is why my Ministry, and indeed my government, have, from the Foundation’s inception, recognised its potential to further a spirit of collaboration between Mediterranean destinations”, concluded Minister Zammit Lewis.

Towards the end of his address, the Minister for Tourism thanked all the participants and praised MHRA for the sterling organisation of the fourth Mediterranean Tourism Forum.

During the conference, Minister Zammit Lewis engaged in talks with Palestinian Tourism Minister Rula Maayah, where both parties agreed that Malta and Palestine will collaborate closely together to attract more tourists to the respective destinations. The ministers arrived to a mutual agreement where Malta will assist Palestine in hospitality training. Minister Zammit Lewis noted that Palestine has extensive tourism potential.

Source: Government of Malta