The Malta Independent 20 February 2019, Wednesday

Corinthia deal not just about building a hotel but part of giant leap in tourism sector - PM

Giulia Magri Sunday, 27 January 2019, 13:14 Last update: about 23 days ago

The Corinthia project is part of a “giant leap” in the tourism sector, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday morning.

Speaking in Zebbug, Muscat said the deal was not just about building a new hotel.

He said Malta had almost reached a saturation point when it came to tourism figures, mentioning that the country is expecting to attract around 3 million tourists this year.

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“How more can we handle? We need to start focusing on attracting big spenders,” Muscat said.

The way forward was to cater for tourists who spend €5,000 per night, he said, adding that Malta lacked such facilities.

Projects like this one, he said, would lead to higher salaries for people working in the tourism industry. Refusing such developments would mean having minimum wage jobs which were only attracting foreigners.

“We either opt for the status quo or else strive to make the next giant leap,” he said.

“Now is the time for us to take the necessary leap forward to improve the future of Malta,” Muscat said, adding that the population has two choices; staying put or moving forward.

He said that the Central Bank of Malta governor has compared Malta to an “old-ish car which is struggling to keep up with the speed of its economic acceleration”, and continuing on the metaphor, he emphasised that now is the time to invest in a new model.

He also mentioned the current discussion on the influx of foreign workers to Malta – how some people complain that there are too many foreigners, whilst the others see this growth as an opportunity to achieve profit by renting out property to such workers.

Muscat highlighted that one should not fall under an illusion that one can press the pause button on the economy. Rather, they should take the decision to step out of their comfort zone, which is what the Labour Party intends on doing.

During his speech, Muscat said that the Maltese have been faced with numerous opportunities and difficult decisions to improve the well-being of the country and future generations.

He spoke of one event which “unlike Independence, Freedom Day and Republic, has never been celebrated,” that being when Mintoff won the 1971 general elections and promised to nationalise the economic and public sector and push off dependency from the British.

He spoke about how companies from all over Europe had come to Malta to set up their factories, increasing the number of Maltese employees, especially first-time employment for women, and how taking such economic risks were the first steps to improving the country and citizens’ independence.

He noted that since the government had moved towards the blockchain economy, some 260 companies had applied to open up shop in Malta.

Another challenge Muscat mentioned was the €700 million infrastructure project to see the reconstruction of all roads over seven years. He said he was proud to see worker after worker hard at work to reconstruct the roads. “I have received criticism that we are rushing the construction of roads and should slow down, but this country has waited too long for these developments and we must invest to get the work done as soon as possible.”

Muscat said that the party’s vision is to invest not just in the infrastructure of the island, but also in projects that will increase the quality of service and life of the country.

 

 

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