Gozo Tourism Association CEO, Joseph Muscat

Published on : Sunday, January 12, 2014

download-35-300x155The tourism industry on Malta is presently riding on a successful wave the number of tourists who came to the Maltese islands will surpass the 1,500,000 mark. This is an all time record. Figures for Gozo although very limited are also very encouraging. In fact according to the latest NSO statistics covering up to October 2013, the gozitan hotels and guesthouses registered an increase of seven per cent in bed nights when compared with the same period (January to October) of last year 2012. Presently Malta is focusing on increasing tourist arrivals during the shoulder and low months. This is also a priority for destination Gozo, since the island experiences the seasonality element more than the mainland.

What are the issues that affect tourism in Gozo and what role does the GTA play?

The main issues that are affecting tourism on Gozo in our opinion are the aforementioned seasonality as well as connectivity. The Gozo Tourism Association had been actively involving itself in and supporting several initiatives that are being taken to mitigate seasonality. In our marketing efforts through the various mediums available as well as during our participation in tourism fairs the Gozo Tourism Association markets Gozo through its various niches especially those that can be visited , practiced or experienced during the low and shoulder months.

Does the problem of unlicensed accommodation still hinder the industry?

Yes, the Gozo Tourism Association is of the opinion that this situation is not placing all accommodation providers on equal level playing field. This situation is also proving to be unfair for all the many licenced accommodation units since these are paying all due fees to operate and undergo various standard inspections by the various competent authorities, while the unlicensed are not carry this burden.

Although the MTA has been and is doing continuous checks to minimize this problem, still we believe more work has to been done in order that our self catering accommodation providers operate in a fair competitive climate.

How has the tourism industry in Gozo evolved over the years and how does it compare to Malta’s?

The tourism industry on Gozo is now over fifty years old. Along these years this industry evolved to an extent that today it is the main industry on the island. It was the foresight of the gozitan entrepreneurs who coupled with successive government synergies invested and is still investing in tourism thus developing this main economic driver on Gozo. This development includes ten modern hotels on Gozo with a bed capacity of over 1,700 beds. Furthermore the private sector invested heavily in self catering segment which today totals over 4,800 beds. This investment also created the farmhouse product which is now synonymous with the island of Gozo.

The government has embarked upon a series of initiatives to promote niche tourism, what is your view on this?

Such initiatives are very welcome as they dovetail perfectly with the Gozo Tourism Association’s objectives. Having the goverment and the MTA together with the private sector working in synergy together is a formula that works and produces results. Gozo being marketed as a different destination has to provide a different touristic product . This can be achieved through the various niches that Gozo is now renowned for.

Work on creating a cruise liner terminal in Gozo has started with a call for expressions of interest, what is your view on this and how will it affect Gozo?

The gozitan tourism composite is quite different to that on Malta. A case in point is the cruise tourist. Gozo does not enjoy the numbers of cruise passengers as mainland does. One of the reasons is the lack of berthing facilities in and around Gozo. Therefore goverment’s commitment to develop a cruise passenger terminal is a valuable infrastructure that will definitely put the island of Gozo on several cruise liners port calls.

The tourism industry has seen a record number of arrivals in 2013, has Gozo benefitted from this record and why?

As explained earlier above Gozo also benefitted from the record number of arrivals as we have seen increases both in arrivals as well as in the average length of stay basically month after month during 2013. The fact that the MTA in its promotion is focusing on projecting Malta as the Maltese islands is helping Gozo to be exposed more, while the joint efforts of all stakeholders are definitely riping the desired results .

More work is required on the infrastructure to provide a holistic experience, what is your view on this?

Yes we believe that the gozitan touristic product needs to be upgraded and further embellished . The investment on the road network is important but the product doesn’t stop there. The island needs an upgrade of its product. Today’s expectations of the tourists are very high while competition around us is very cut throat therefore our touristic product should be ship shape to win over more tourists

How did the tourism and entertainment industry in Gozo fare over the festive season?
From the reports we had the festive season as usual was quite busy. However the bad weather played its toll on several establishments especially those in close proximity to the waters edge. Yet the accommodation was quite busy especially in the major hotels.

We had mixed reactions from the gozitan restaurants with regards to their performance during this festive season when compared with that of 2012.

On another note the domestic tourist once again crossed over to Gozo either using the hotel and self catering accommodation or else opting for their own residence. Bethlem f’Ghajnsielem also contributed to a very large extent to bring over to Gozo the Maltese to visit this thematic attraction, which we sincerely hope that will continue in future.

Source:- Malta

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