The past decade has seen an average 8.9 per cent annual growth in the Maltese cruise liner industry, a spokesperson for the Parliamentary Secretariat for Tourism said in comments to this newspaper.
Cruise liner passengers increased from 187,838 in 1999 to 439,630 last year. The construction of the Cruise Liner Passenger Terminal definitely contributed towards this increase, he added.
Last March, the total cruise passenger traffic amounted to 25,533 – an increase of 20,480 passengers over the previous year. This was mainly attributed to an increase of seven cruise liner calls.
The number of transit passengers, meaning all cruise passengers who arrive in Malta and leave on the same cruise ship, stood at 25,030.
Same-day visitors or those who do not spend at least one night in collective or private accommodation in Malta and who were non-EU nationals stood at 5,392, of which 43.9 per cent were from the United States.
Over the past years MTA has stepped up its marketing activity in this sector. Advertising includes advertorials in cruise industry trade magazines, lifestyle magazines and on board magazines, promoting the destination with decision makers in the industry.
This aims at informing passengers about the Maltese islands while enticing them to get off their cruise ship and visit the islands when in the Grand Harbour.
MTA also hosts journalists and television teams from all over the world to showcase the islands with particular emphasis on cruise industry related products and opportunities.
It carries out joint advertising with tour operators and cruise specialists promoting Cruise & Stay Holidays departing from and returning to Malta.
Meanwhile, it participates in international fairs, exhibitions and conventions, particular to the cruise industry. It hosts educational visits for travel agents and site inspections by prospective new cruise line executives and carries out direct marketing activity with travel agencies and consumer databases.
An information booth at the Valletta Waterfront and welcome events for maiden calls by new cruise ships have also proved to be useful.