The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

Minister Edward Zammit Lewis launches new P&O Oceana Malta to Malta cruise itinerary

Thursday, 18 August 2016, 12:14 Last update: about 6 years ago

Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis  today launched the new turnaround Malta to Malta cruise itinerary of the P&O Oceana cruise-liner, which is due to commence in 2017.

In a press conference at the Valletta Waterfront, the Tourism Minister explained that this development is very exciting for our tourism sector and he looked forward to further enhance the relationship with P&O, which is considered a leader in the cruise industry and this year will celebrate 180 years of globetrotting adventures since 1837.

The Minister said that during 2017 over 100,000 passenger movements will be handled through this fly and cruise programme on 27 calls, with further 10,000 passenger movements on 5 further calls visiting Malta on port of call. Moreover, additional port calls are planned for 2018.

‘‘It is primarily thanks to such initiatives that Malta’s cruise sector has been successfully evolving and growing from one which was exclusively a port-of-call, to one which now includes home-porting that benefits the Maltese tourism industry in various ways’’, said the Minister for Tourism.

He also explained that cruise passengers who fly to Malta to start a cruise on a home-porting vessel increase passenger flow at our airport and support airlines in achieving even higher seat factors, thus contributing to the long-term sustainability of the various airline routes to Malta. Furthermore, we are aware that a number of cruise passengers even opt to add a few nights of stay in Malta before or after their cruise, adding further to the economic benefits for all the tourism operators and the economy in general.

Minister Zammit Lewis remarked that the cruise market also breathes new life to our harbours and assists urban regeneration. He said that cruises expose the charms of our archipelago to about half a million cruise passengers every year. Eventually, a substantial number of these first time visitors return to our islands for a longer stay, generating even further business.

He added that the Ministry is setting up the Malta Cruise Network Forum (MCNF) with the aim to create a non-profit making forum of stakeholders in the cruise industry in Malta having either commercial, business or public interest in the cruise industry, allowing a greater and more effective synergy between the stakeholders. Amongst others, this initiative will assist to promote Malta as a destination for cruise tourism of excellence and facilitate the establishment of Malta more as a home port.

The Tourism Minister also referred to official cruise passenger data released recently. This data indicates that the record success registered by the cruise-line industry last year will continue also into 2016. According to NSO’s latest published figures, Malta registered nearly 240,000 cruise-line passengers during the first half of this year, an increase of 6.2% on 2015. There were 125 port calls between this January and June in the Grand Harbour, 8 more than what was recorded in the same months last year. Looking forward, according to projections we will reach the absolute record of 700,000 passenger traffic that is an increase of 4.4% over last year.

‘‘These results reflect the concerted and coordinated drive by all stakeholders, including the Valletta Cruise Port and Mifsud Brothers Ltd in Malta, to develop our product and promote Malta’s increasing attractiveness and popularity as a leading cruise destination in central Mediterranean, in what is a highly competitive market’’, added Dr Zammit Lewis. He also expressed gratitude both to Malta Tourism Authority and Malta International Airport for the continuous success efforts in the tourism industry.

‘‘I wish the Captain and crew of P&O Oceana a bright future, and I look forward to our continued and enhanced collaboration for many years to come’’, concluded the Tourism Minister.

“We are proud to be the homeport of choice for P&O Oceana throughout seasons 2017 and 2018. Malta is a vibrant destination and this is reflected in the port of Valletta and all the ongoing activities around the Grand Harbour region and the Capital City. Valletta Cruise Port prides itself of its close collaboration with all cruise lines. Our distinctive capabilities include a central position in the Mediterranean, sound port infrastructure and services, destination attractiveness and a diverse product offering, outstanding service delivery, and more importantly our reliability and flexibility,” said CEO of Valletta Cruise Port Stephen Xuereb.

“We are delighted that P&O’s ‘love affair’ with Malta, which started way back in 1837, when Peninsular Steam Navigation Co, which started as a mail service from London to Malta, has now blossomed to a turnaround operation which will start next year to coincide nicely with the 180th anniversary since P&O started calling in Malta,” added Managing Director of Mifsud Brothers Ltd Ivan Mifsud.

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