Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli put forward six proposals concerning EU-wide actions, during a virtual Minister conference of European Union (EU) Tourism Ministers, organised by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Minister Farrugia Portelli emphasised that it is imperative for the EU to launch a robust and ambitious plan to revive the tourism industry as soon as possible post coronavirus.
In her address, Farrugia Portelli highlighted the measures Malta has undertaken to manage the crisis and to mitigate the impact on the tourism sector. She explained that Malta depends heavily on international tourism to the tune of 25% to 30% of its GDP.
The following are the six proposals put forward by Malta during the conference:
- A strong commitment needed regarding the re-opening of the tourism sector. There are risks which need to be managed. However, new protocols are needed to manage these risks effectively particularly concerning flights, accommodation, and entertainment
- Designate safe corridors between territories and regions which, like Malta, received praise for its successful management of the problem.
- EU assistance should not be limited to financial instruments that would burden operators with additional debt but must also include the possibility of grants
- The recovery strategy must also take into consideration geographic disparities and differences. Minister Farrugia Portelli gave the example for small states such as Malta where the aviation sector is more than just an integral part of the tourism sector – It is the main bridge to the outside world and is vital for Malta’s connectivity. Therefore airlines should be supported as they would be re-starting the economy, said Farrugia Portelli.
- The EU needs to take a definite stand on the package travel directive and air passenger regulation while acknowledging that consumer rights must remain protected at all times, there needs to be a proper balance regarding the voucher proposal to protect the travel sector
- Investment in the upskilling of the workforce and the upgrade of tourism product is needed as this is an opportunity to start afresh by making the tourism industry more sustainable
Malta, together with six other Member States, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and Bulgaria has presented a joint statement to the European Commission calling for strong financial allocation for tourism in its recovery plan that is being drafted.
The Ministry for Tourism said that the statement calls for short and long-term measures to assist those tourism associated sectors in mitigating the COVID-19 effects. The statement also acknowledges that the countries situated on the EU periphery are the worst affected and underscores the importance of assisting airlines securing their connectivity.
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