‘Cruise liners home porting in Malta gives added value to the tourism industry’
Speech by the Minister for Tourism Dr. Edward Zammit Lewis on board Mein Schiff 3
CEO Valletta Cruise Port Stephen Xuereb, H.E. Ambassador for Germany Dr. Brandes, Captain Holm, esteemed guests, I would like to thank SMS group and Orange Travel group, as TUI Cruises, a sales agents in Malta, for inviting me to address this press conference today. The visit of TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff 3 is of a great significance; this is the first time that a brand new cruise ship is being based in Valletta as its homeport. Mein Schiff 3 offers its guests many facilities and adventures. From Valletta, guest will experience a variety of routes into the West Mediterranean and along the Adriatic coast.
Malta’s cruise sector has been evolving from one which was exclusively port-of-call, to one which, thanks primarily to the TUI Mein Schiff programme, now includes home-porting. TUI Cruises operating out of Valletta bring many benefits for the Maltese tourism industry. Cruise passengers who fly to Malta to start a cruise on a home-porting vessel increase passenger flow at our airport and assist airlines in operating with higher seat factors, thus contributing to the long-term sustainability of the various airline routes into Malta.
Some cruise passengers opt to add a few nights before of after their cruise; their financial contribution to the Maltese economy is greater than those cruise line passengers who are here just for a day. Hotels, restaurants and other tourism establishments all benefit.
TUI Cruises are on course to have operated cruises for around 250,000 passengers out of Valletta between 2011 and the end of the current season. These figures are remarkable.
Cruises are an important component of Malta’s tourism strategy. The cruise market breathes life into our harbours and assists urban regeneration. Cruise ships expose the charms of our archipelago to about half a million people every year. There is evidence that a substantial number of these first time visitors eventually come back to our Islands for a longer stay. In fact what we learn from Valletta Cruise Port and cruise line companies is that Malta and the Port of Valletta are firm favorites with cruise holiday makers.
It is positive to note that, after a downturn in 2013, the number of cruise passengers and cruise liners visiting Malta in 2014 is on the increase. Cruise passengers in the first 3 months of 2014 increased by 68% compared to same period in 2013, an increase of 15,490 passengers and 10 extra calls by cruise liners.
This summer will be the fourth year of a TUI cruises home porting operation in Malta. This in itself is a strong testament of the excellent business relationship that TUI Cruises has built with Maltese partners. It also confirms the positive experience and professional service that TUI Mein Schiff management, crew and their clients are enjoying in Malta.
Together with TUI and other cruise industry partners we aim to increase our efforts and investment to reach our objective for growth in home porting and cruise & stay business.
Malta has a superb position in the middle of the Mediterranean, allowing multiple options for itineraries both in the western and eastern basins of the Mediterranean Sea; cruise home-porting can and should assume an even more important role.
I wish the Captain and crew of the TUI Mein Schiff 3 a successful 2014 season and I look forward to continued and enhanced collaboration for the year to come.