Malta is eyeing new records in the number of tourist arrivals and the number of cruise visitors, Parliamentary Secretary Mario de Marco said this morning.
Arrivals on cruise liners are not counted with tourist arrivals.
Dr de Marco said that while tourist arrivals were up 7 per cent between January and October compared to the same months last year, Valletta Cruise Port had said that October was its best ever month, with 76,000 passengers coming to Malta on cruise ships. Arrivals were already higher than the whole of last year and there was a possibility that the record achieved in 2008, when 550,000 came to Malta, would be exceeded.
Speaking at a PN activity, immediately after a visit to the cruise terminal, Dr de Marco said the cruise industry was very important for the economy. Each cruise visitor was conservatively estimated to spend €60 in Malta, meaning direct income to the Maltese of over €30 million.
Dr de Marco said he was happy to report how German cruise operator TUI was pleased with its first season of home porting in Malta and would continue to use Malta for the coming two years. The fact that cruises started and ended in Malta meant added business for Malta – not least the fact that 2,000 visitors arrived at MIA every Sunday to board their cruise ship, and then vice versa.
Malta, Dr de Marco said needed to continue to invest and to be creative, Its location meant cruise organisers could organise ‘butterfly cruises’ – Eastern Mediterranean cruises on one week and a cruise to the West on the following. And passengers could opt to take both.
He hoped that in future Malta would also be at the heart of cruises to the Northern Mediterranean and then the South.
He said cruise ships were getting bigger and longer, and Transport Malta was spending €10m to ensure that the quays at Grand Harbour would remain able to handle the biggest ships.