If Malta doesn’t open its airport in time for summer the country will face a situation of mass unemployment, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) has warned.
In a statement, the MHRA said that the impact of COVID-19 on public health in Malta was “much less dramatic than expected” but that this has come at a hefty economic price, particularly for the transport, travel, tourism, hospitality, sports and leisure industries.
“The tourism sector in Malta has reached ground zero as result of this crises and is now desperate to reopen and face the ‘new’ normality,” MHRA President Tony Zahra said.
“MHRA emphasizes that it is important that we keep safeguarding lives but equally important that we need to start working together to protect livelihoods. Our medical authorities need to keep being vigilant and perform their essential and respectful role in our society but we also need to reignite our economy.”
“The economy will not be as we’ve been accustomed to over the past years – it will be a new reality for all, however we cannot keep procrastinating from opening our tourism sector.
“Every day that passes the economy is sinking further and further into trouble and every day that passes Government is spending circa €11 million per day or €330 million per month to keep everyone at home, money which the Government is borrowing and has to be repaid from everybody’s taxes in the future.”
“If we don’t open the airport then we shall see mass unemployment as there is no reason for anyone in the tourist industry to hold on to staff if there is no summer.”
“Operators in the tourism industry will let everyone go and rehire in Easter 2021 – provided of course they are still around by that time. This is not a threat, this is not an argument supporting wealth against health or otherwise – this is a fact of life.”
“Therefore, MHRA appeals to Government that now is time to steer the direction towards reigniting our economy through the tourism sector whilst ensuring reasonable safety measures for staff, employees and residents reflecting the new reality which we all need to adapt to rather than hide from.”