The Malta Independent 3 March 2024, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: Now tell us how much it costs

Thursday, 18 May 2023, 09:47 Last update: about 11 months ago

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has told us that Malta is set to make more than €68 million worth of marketing from the Giro d’Italia.

The VisitMalta brand is sponsoring the cycling race that sees participants make their way across Italy over a three-week period. Anyone following the event on television sees cyclists going around the most spectacular places around Italy, from mountains to valleys, from small villages to cities, and it cannot be helped to notice how much open spaces and greenery they have compared to our concrete and car-filled roads.

The competition is one of the most popular of this particular sport, coupled with the Tour de France and the Spanish Vuelta, which take place later on in the international cycling season.

We do not know from where Bartolo got this figure, and how it was calculated. He said that the advertising involves featuring VisitMalta on the field – that is in places from where the cyclists are passing – and also online and media platforms.

Well and good. It is always positive that Malta attracts tourists, as the industry is one of the major pillars of our economy. We all remember how hard it was hit when the Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing. Now that the worst it over, we are getting back on the pre-2020 track. That the first quarter of this year has seen record numbers which eclipse the pre-Covid times gives hope that we are past the crisis.

Once again, the minister and his ministry have refrained from telling us how much this particular sponsorship costs. “Let me be clear,” he said, “the country is not spending that amount, but the country will get that amount back through marketing.” But he did not say what Malta is spending to have a €68 million return.

It’s not the first time that this has happened. We do not know, for example, how much the sponsorship of Manchester United is costing the country. Even here, the ministry is reluctant to give us the details. We have been told that such figures are commercially sensitive.

In the same way, it did not give us information on how much the Malta Film Awards have cost. In this case, we were not promoting Malta abroad; we were just holding a local event to push the film industry.

Maybe the Tourism Ministry’s official name should be changed to Ministry of Tourism and Secrecy.

The minister and his ministry should be reminded that this is public money. The money that is being used to sponsor international activities, such as the Giro, and popular teams, such as Manchester United, is coming from taypayers, who should be told where their money is being spent.

In this way, we would really know if the €68 million that Bartolo is boasting about is really worth the trouble.

Without knowing how much we are spending to supposedly get back those €68 million in return – again, we say that we do not know how the minister arrived at such a figure – it is impossible to draw a conclusion of the sponsorship’s value.

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