Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg participated in the Mediterranean Tourism Forum where he spoke about Malta’s maritime role with regard to the tourism sector.

The Minister spoke about the country’s success as a maritime nation, both in terms of economy as well as in terms of its advanced legal framework. He stated that the seas and oceans have become increasingly regarded as the drivers for European economy, offering the potential for innovation and growth. While stating that the fact that blue economy can be a driver for welfare and prosperity may seem obvious today, the Minister said that this was not so easy to claim at the time of its inception, when Europe was still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis.

On a more positive note, Europe is now on the road to recovery with the blue economy proving to be a creator of growth and jobs, with an output of over Euros 1.3 trillion, said Minister Borg, with the potential to more than double by 2030. He referred to the OECD’s prediction that, on the criteria of job creation, many ocean-based industries could outperform the global economy as a whole by 2030.

The Minister shifted his speech to the blooming sector of coastal tourism, claiming that Europe is the world’s second largest cruise ship destination, with cruise tourism growing at a fast rate. He spoke of the special strategic importance Malta has always been given by its geographical position, an aspect which was further enhanced when the Mediterranean region, with some of its most fascinating cruising and yachting experiences, became a popular global tourist destination. He noted that our country has risen to this occasion by establishing its status as a leading service provider, especially in the superyachts service industry. Needless to say, said Minister Borg, this important segment provides a strong economic input into any country’s economy.

He attributed Malta’s uniqueness to its ‘can-do’ approach, and while this does not mean that there is no room for improvement, he said that there is a genuine, open approach to guide and assist owners, managers, and captains in the process of regulation. A political stable environment, a positive relationship with other littoral states in the Mediterranean, a clear commitment to support business development of high-added value services, an attractive fiscal regime, a well-respected flag, and an efficient administration create the right environment for this industry to further consolidate and prosper, added the Minister.

Minister Borg emphasised that our current success does not mean that we can stop here. In fact, he added, speaking as Minister responsible for maritime affairs and infrastructure, the main challenge ahead is to ensure that both our maritime and land infrastructure are adequate for the big influx of people that visit the island. It was for this reason, said the Minister, that maritime affairs were given top priority during last year’s Maltese Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Minister Borg emphasised the importance of looking at the long-term and sustainable transformation of the Mediterranean as a yachting destination of excellence and said that we must strive to provide the holistic feel expected by what one can term a niche, boutique, 7-star superyacht industry. In order to get here, he added, we need to understand that change, innovation, and progress are the constants which we need to embody in our daily practices.

He expressed his belief that Malta has done well in building fiscal, legal, corporate and registration services, but that it is also time to shift our focus to other offerings which are even more value added and strategically important. Malta, he claimed, must be a stronger alternative, based on capabilities, improved infrastructure, competence, level of service, reputation and strong relationships, while expressing his confidence that yachting will become a key pillar of the Maltese economy if we sustain the momentum gained in our infrastructure, our workforce, and this industry.

The Minister concluded his speech by reminding those present that a successful blue economy depends on also keeping our oceans healthy and creating the right conditions for blue growth, which is a shared task that crosses borders and which is not confined to the EU and its member states. He made reference to the Rio+20 Summit which prioritised the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, which was translated into Sustainable Development Goal 14. This, he added, is why a joint communication on international ocean governance containing 50 actions towards this goal, was published by the EU.

Minister Borg closed off by expressing his pride in our successes so far as well as gratefulness for the hard work and support of all those involved.

Source: Source: Government of Malta