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Q&A with Carlo Micallef, Chief Marketing Officer and Deputy Chairperson, Malta Tourism Authority

Published on Thursday, April 18, 2019

Interview with with Carlo Micallef, Chief Marketing Officer and Deputy Chairperson, Malta Tourism Authority about Tourism in Malta

In this Q&A Session the ELT Council within the Department of Education in Malta speaks with Carlo Micallef, Chief Marketing Officer and Deputy Chairperson, at the Malta Tourism Authority about the performance of Malta in terms of its tourism industry in 2018.

What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in relation to tourism in Malta this year?

Tourism is a most exciting, vibrant and volatile industry where no one day is like another. It keeps us on our toes and the adrenaline high. As an experienced manager advised me more than 20 years ago when I joined NTOM, the predecessor organisation to MTA, one either falls in love with the tourism industry and makes a career of it, or you're out of the industry in no time. I stayed put and I am happy to say that I am still enjoying it as much as when I started.
Malta's tourism industry has been riding the waves of success for eight years now with growth year after year. The last three years have been particularly intensive. It would be unfair and incorrect if I would try to point out just one exciting thing that happened in the past year as we have achieved a lot.

In the past year MTA has re-branded and launched a new brand image as well as a new advertising campaign, we have expanded flight connectivity to Malta to reach 120 direct routes to our shores. We, and when I say we I mean MTA together with all the stakeholders, have managed to reach and surpass all targets for tourist numbers, tourist bed nights and earnings from tourism, the tourism industry is attracting massive investment with top international hotel and catering brand names being attracted to invest in the Maltese Islands; MTA has expanded its marketing activity to reach 45 different countries; the seasonality spread of tourism has improved dramatically with important growth achieved in the winter months and new growth markets have been developed to continue the diversification of tourism source markets with important new business being generated by markets like USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, Portugal and Poland to name just a few.

Summing it all up, the most exciting thing for tourism in Malta is that the industry is often top of the agenda with positive news. It is an industry that has withstood the test of time and competition from new industries to remain and grow even stronger as one of the pillars of Malta's economic activity.

What’s trending?

The tourism source markets have different characteristics, in some of them the tour operator and the travel agents are making a comeback, in others less so with OTAs taking the lion's share of bookings but in general the trend in 2019 is for a growth in last minute bookings, traveling on a whim, exploring new destinations, seeking new experiences, ecological and educational motivations to travel, adventure and active holidays, search for full immersion in the local
experience by staying in private accommodation, frequent short breaks experiencing history, culture and cuisine of the destination.

Social media influencers, recommendations by friends and relatives and other travelers' comments and ratings on websites like Trip Advisor, Holiday Check etc., nowadays have the strongest clout on the travelers choice of destination for his or her holidays.

What is the consumer asking for?

The consumer is asking for happy memories to be made through an authentic enriching
experience delivered at a good value for money.

Can you tell us a little about how the language travel industry is being marketed and why this sector is so important for the local economy and tourism industry?

Language Travel is one of the identified primary segments in Malta's tourism industry. It represents circa 5% of the tourism industry with an important direct contribution of income to host families as well as other suppliers further down the tourism chain. The benefits from this segment are widespread across the Islands generating income and employment to many.

The sector commands a central position in MTA's marketing plan in several countries in Europe as well as further afield in Asia and South America with dedicated personnel as well as important budgets allocated for advertising and PR activity. MTA is active in language travel sectoral media, the organisation of agent, teachers and media fam trips to our Islands, participation in sector specific fairs and workshops, joint marketing activity with tour operators, promotion on social media channels, direct marketing activity as well as advertising and PR activities in places like Universities, Colleges, High Schools, Secondary Schools and business corporations. MTA's activity targets different audiences ranging from General English for teenagers to bespoke courses for professionals in different industries.

Often disregarded but also important, in my opinion, is the fact that many of those that learn or improve their command of the English language in our Islands cultivate very positive memories of their stay, such that they often become our allies at tour operators or airlines they could be working with and best ambassadors for the destination.


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