The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) emphasises that the environment determining this year’s budget is one which the tourism, hospitality and travel operators were definitely not expecting to experience earlier this year.
By the end of the first quarter of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought international travel to an abrupt halt and significantly impacted the tourism industry across the world. Malta is not set in a vacuum, accordingly the MHRA members too experienced shattering consequences. The tourism industry impacted the Maltese economy given that the sector is a major source of employment and government revenue.
MHRA recognises Government’s willingness to work in close cooperation with the Association as a key social partner from the start of the pandemic. Significantly MHRA commends Government’s balanced and effective approach to difficult decisions which needed to be taken in unparalleled circumstances. This has ensured that thousands of employees and hundreds of operators across hotels and restaurants remained operational.
Initially the pandemic seemed to be a situation which could be controlled during this year, however, now it is widely recognised that it will be a longer journey. The Government has delivered a budget which averts the worst effects in the near future being caused by the pandemic. MHRA is assured that measures will be taken to speed the recovery as soon as the pandemic subsides.
MHRA welcomes Government’s decision to extend the wage subsidy to employees working across the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector till March 2021. This is a key measure which in the circumstances is being considered as a vital lifeline by MHRA members. MHRA also welcomes that the wage subsidy will be extended to employees replacing incumbents who leave their place of work. This is critical to ensure that all hotel and restaurant operations keep going, recognising the specific nature of hospitality business.
The relaunch of the vouchers scheme is also a clear message by Government that it values the recommendations made by MHRA as significantly these measures will keep sustaining the operations of the hotels, restaurants and other economic sectors in the most difficult environment.
The MHRA welcomes the various initiatives aimed at improving the environment and quality of life of all citizens, and the emphasis on green developments and schemes to mitigate the effect of climate change. The substantial EU funding announced in the budget in support of these measures are indeed encouraging. This budget incentivises and rewards investment in innovation and digital development which are pivotal for Malta to remain competitive in the marketplace.
The MHRA welcomes the investment announced for the upgrading of the tourism product, in particular the embellishment of tourism zones, greening of the environment, coastal upgrading, road infrastructure, waste management and other measures. It welcomes Government emphasis on quality as this fundamental in the face of increased competition
Over and above the short-term initiatives MHRA notes Government’s efforts to also look at the future by setting strong foundations for matters related to the creation of new economic sectors such as Esports, further support to boost the conference and incentive business. MHRA commends the increase in the allocation of funds for the Malta Tourism Authority and indeed the vote for the Ministry for Tourism
MHRA positively notes that no new taxes have been introduced. MHRA believes that this budget is an ambitious one and in the right direction. The budget is allowing for enough space and ability to craft further action as may be necessary at the most appropriate time.
MHRA also values Government’s strong focus on social initiatives in this budget as this will inspire a feel-good factor across all society, in times which are difficult for all.
MHRA strongly believes that the tourism industry is resilient and will return to be a major pillar of the economy once the pandemic subsides.