The Malta Independent 4 December 2020, Friday

‘Hospitality industry will be top priority in wage supplement revision’ – Tourism Minister

Karl Azzopardi Tuesday, 10 November 2020, 07:54 Last update: about 24 days ago

The hospitality industry will be of top priority during the revaluation of the COVID-19 wage supplement scheme, Tourism Minster Julia Farrugia Portelli told this newsroom.

In the presentation of the budget for 2021, the government announced that it will be extending the COVID-19 wage supplement scheme until March of next year while making some amendments to which sectors will benefit from it depending on who needs it most.

ADVERTISEMENT

Following a press conference which saw the launch of ‘Christmas in the City’, this newsroom approached Farrugia Portelli to ask if the hospitality industry will be prioritised with regards to the COVID-19 wage supplement scheme.

“Thousands of workers are benefitting from this scheme, the majority of which form part of the industry in question. So, my answer to your question is yes. Anyone working in the industry under a wage supplement will be weighed in during our calibrations in the same way there are being now,” the minister said.

This newsroom also inquired whether the government is planning any new initiatives to help the tourism industry during the coming shoulder months, especially when considering the vigorous restrictions this area has been faced with.

“As the government has announced in its budget, we will be realising the second round of vouchers, the majority of which will go directly into the hospitality industry,” Farrugia Portelli said.

She added that, in the meantime, the government will keep promoting the idea of internal tourism seeing that most of the public is unwilling to travel abroad in the current climate; “this will be of great importance to help hotels in the upcoming shoulder months.”

Asked to specify how the government will be promoting internal tourism, the minister once again mentioned the second round of vouchers which is a €50 million investment. “With this scheme, the government is automatically promoting internal tourism which is important now that we are entering the Christmas period,” she said while making reference to the ‘Christmas in the City’ program which is aimed at attracting tourism in one of Malta’s top hospitality hubs; Valletta.

Farrugia Portelli was also asked to provide the ministry’s projections for the hospitality industry during the coming winter months and if she is expecting closures from certain establishments.

“The situation is escalating across the globe, but from the beginning this government’s priority was to safeguard people’s jobs, 100,000 in total, most of which relating to tourism and we must keep it as such as we move forward,” the minister said.

She explained that aside from safeguarding employment, the ministry has taken this time to invest around €6 million in improving its workforce’s skills and knowledge of the industry. 8,000 workers are participating in more than 1,000 different courses provided by 33 different entities. Around 6,000 participants who enrolled for the course have just successfully completed their studies, while about 2,000 more are still in the process of undertaking an accredited course. “This will help us provide a more refined service and product in tourism.”

The newsroom once again asked if she anticipates any closures, however, the minster reiterated that despite other realities of unemployment abroad, Malta managed to retain employment with the help of schemes including the wage supplement.

 

  • don't miss