The Malta Independent 25 May 2020, Monday

Coronavirus: ‘The tourism industry will awaken to a new world’ – Robert Arrigo

Karl Azzopardi Thursday, 9 April 2020, 09:07 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Coronavirus pandemic will see the tourism sector awaken to a new world, PN Deputy Leader Robert Arrigo told The Malta Independent.

Last Saturday, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia assigned new roles to members of the Parliamentary Group through a shadow cabinet reshuffle, and Arrigo was given the role of Spokesperson for Tourism in a New World.

With all inbound and outbound flights cut off and entertainment establishments closed, the tourism industry, which makes up a hefty percentage of Malta’s GPD, has faced a major setback economically.

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In light of this predicament, The Malta Independent asked about the vision Arrigo has for the future of the tourism industry.

“This virus will have the tourism industry awaken to a new world,” he said.  He stressed that a portion of the commercial sector will cease to exist and that the rest will need to reinvent itself.

He explained that tourism will not just take off the day the virus is declared clear – “we have a long 12 months ahead, and the €800measure to aid employers pay employees is a half measure that still warrants other measures for survival.”

During the past few weeks, the government released a financial package that assigned an €800 per month salary for all employees working in the hardest hit sectors, including tourism.

Arrigo believes that this has not been forthcoming from the government as March wages have been paid so “the pain starts now”.

“The Cabinet is out of its dept. The intent is more to deviate attention onto the PN, rather than address the situation. Very puerile, short-sighted persons with no experience, but a huge ego,” he said.

He finds it worrying that a lot of money has been spent on events and sponsors that have no real value.

“This money must go to help to airlines and tour operators. Pricing will still be a problem as the whole world will compete for a market decimated by 50%,” he said.

In his opinion, things should have done better as the fear of the unknown makes one break the momentum – “the hope that business needs is not there.“

Arrigo was elected deputy leader two years ago.  At the start of February 2020, Arrigo released a letter in which he stated that he will resign from his post at the end of March. This happened during the wave of controversy that took over the PN cabinet wherein Adrian Delia was asked to consider his position following a survey which saw him losing further support. At the end of March 2020, Arrigo confirmed that he will not be leaving his position due to the Coronavirus outbreak in Malta.

In the press release that delineated the PN cabinet reshuffle, Delia said that Malta is passing through a tough time, as well as a radical transformation. With the division of different responsibilities, the PN wants to make sure the best use of talent within the PN Parliamentary Group is made, as well as to see what our country needs today, more than ever before.

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