PN’s Deputy Leader for Party Affairs and tourism spokesperson Robert Arrigo has issued a stark warning for Malta’s tourism industry, insisting that the government is failing to address serious problems for the sector beyond September 2020.
“The industry is in shambles, the industry died an actual death back in March. It has to restart. It has to reborn,” he told Lovin Malta in an interview. “Half of Malta depends on this industry, it just went through a loss-making winter into this summer and in a few months it will be winter again.”
Malta’s tourism industry was effectively shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Flights reopened on 1st July, however, many predict a significant downturn in tourist arrivals.
“The authorities say we’re going to get between one million and 700,000 tourists. I would put it more at half a million. Remember there is a big difference between an arrival and a tourist,” he continued.
“I’ve seen ash clouds, wars, and financial crisis in the industry. We all made it, but I doubt it this time. Hopefully, we do, but there is a lot of work to be done. The proposals are only till September but we’re planning for next year. What am I meant to say to my clients? Let me wait for the government till I get back to you?”
Arrigo was quick to stress that the government’s help to the industry was important but failed to address the thousands of people on shortened work weeks with far less income.
“If you reopen your business today, you risk to lose more money than when it’s closed,” Arrigo warned.
“This is certainly not a crisis brought on the government and in truth Abela was unlucky to have to deal with such a radical change immediately. But the handling of the crisis needs to be questioned.”
“Why spend thousands on press conferences when you know people have not been receiving a full wage? He could have had it on Super One, as he normally does, and it’s free of charge. Spending millions on personal Facebook pages when other people don’t have a full wage. I think those messages were bad,” he said.
Arrigo’s proposals to the government, like vouchers being extended to the foreign market, have gone ignored. He explained that he has raised the issues in Parliament but that “ministers were too focused on prepared speeches to take note”.
“They can accept them silently as they did with the vouches. They had even criticised that,” he said.
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