The Malta Independent 29 February 2024, Thursday
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Cheap alcohol, legal cannabis do not act as incentives for tourists to visit Malta – Bartolo

Marc Galdes Saturday, 12 August 2023, 07:11 Last update: about 8 months ago

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo insisted that cheap alcohol and legal cannabis do not act as incentives for tourists to visit Malta.

Speaking to The Malta Independent, Bartolo was defending Malta’s image after an article published in the British tabloid “The Sun” on Wednesday depicted Malta as the country where young holidaymakers are seeking “good food, cheap booze and legal weed”.

Reacting to this article, former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi took to Facebook where he expressed his frustration at the negative way Malta is depicted and he blamed this on the Labour government for failing to attract quality tourists.

When Bartolo was asked whether he was satisfied with the way Malta is being portrayed and whether it was the government’s intention to attract cheap tourism, he mentioned how last week “The Sun” also wrote an article where it described Malta as being one of the most beautiful countries that one can visit in the Mediterranean.

Therefore, Bartolo said that this previous article was proof that Malta was not only being seen in this negative light. Bartolo added that, unfortunately, the most recent article from The Sun is something which people like sharing although it damages Malta’s image.

“We do not want to damage our country’s image. Rather, we will continue working to attract quality tourism.”

Bartolo then addressed all the “keyboard warriors” on social media who say that Malta does not attract quality tourism and encouraged all of them to view the most recent data on tourism that was published by the National Statistics Office.

This data showed that for the first six months of the year, the number of tourists that visited Malta increased, the number of nights they spent in Malta increased, and the expenditure of these tourists increased by around 17% when compared to the same period in 2019, Bartolo said.

Malta has a lot more to offer than cheap alcohol and legal cannabis, Bartolo said, “we have our history, we have our culture, we have our traditions…”

Pressed on Gonzi taking aim at the government for failing to attract quality tourists, Bartolo said: “Ex-Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi does not know what he is saying in this regard.”

Bartolo continued by mentioning how, currently, five-star hotels are experiencing some of the best numbers in their history. Also, Bartolo mentioned the six Michelin-star restaurants Malta has, as well as around another 30 restaurants which are in the Michelin guide.

Delving into the niche market of festival tourism was another incentive this government was acting upon to attract quality tourism, Bartolo said. “Festival tourism of good quality, not what is being portrayed in those articles.”

Pressed and asked whether he believes that festival tourism attracts drugs and alcohol, Bartolo responded by insisting that the government only works to attract quality and it only supports things offering a quality product.

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