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Master plan in the pipeline for Valletta Grand Harbour – PM

Date: 28/03/2019

A master plan for the Valletta Grand Harbour which aims to maximise efficiency and increase business flow in Malta’s primary port is in the pipeline and will be released for consultation in the coming weeks, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Wednesday (20 March).

Speaking on board the MSC Bellissima, which was making its maiden call to Valletta, Muscat explained the importance of the cruise industry to Malta, saying that it creates a ripple effect which affects everyone from taxis to bars to tour guides and many others.

He noted that one of the biggest challenges that are being faced at the moment is Grand Harbour’s capacity, and added that the government was always meeting operators who want to call in Valletta more than they are doing today.

It is with this in mind, Muscat said, that the Ministry for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects – led by Minister Ian Borg – was leading an exercise to draw up a master-plan for Grand Harbour so to maximise efficiency and try to give all the current and potential new operators enough facilities in order for them to increase business flow into the country.

He said that such a plan would come with the need for new facilities; one direction, for instance, that is being seriously considered was the building of facilities that can service cruise liners which run on LNG gas.

Muscat pointed out that tourism spending in the country had now increased to €2.2 billion, a significant jump since 2012, but added that with the increase in tourists comes more pressure on the country’s infrastructure.  He said that this infrastructure was never built with an outlook of catering for more than 400,000 people and noted that this is the first time that the country is looking beyond the present in the infrastructural sector.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a ceremony marking the maiden call of the MSC Bellissima to Valletta – where the cruise liner is registered.  Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC’s Executive Chairman, said that this cruise liner is MSC’s fourth to be registered in Valletta and to fly the Maltese cross.

He said that last year alone, MSC’s cruise liners made 75 calls to Malta, bringing around 300,000 passengers to the country.  Vago said that more MSC ships will be registered in Malta, starting with the MSC Grandiosa which will join the MSC fleet this coming November.  The Grandiosa is part of an unprecedented programme of investment that MSC will be undertaking, with €13.6 billion being spent by the company to add 17 new cruise liners to its fleet and therefore cater for another 5 million guests.

Vago also announced that, as of 2020, a new service to Malta will be launched, with the MSC Lirica departing from Venice every Monday and calling at ports on the Adriatic Sea in countries such as Croatia and Montenegro before eventually calling at Valletta every Friday.

Vago said that the partnership that MSC has with Malta remains strong and augured that this partnership continues to expand in the years to come.

The CEO of Valletta Cruiseport Limited Stephen Xuereb meanwhile revealed that Malta was on track to, for the first time ever, surpass 800,000 passengers arriving to the country on cruise liners.  He said that MSC contributed to 28% of the country’s volume in cruise passengers over the past year and added that Valletta had positioned itself on the global map as a cruise ship destination through close collaboration with key stakeholders such as Transport Malta and the Ministry for Tourism.

He said that the cruise industry has seen a sustainable increase year-on-year and noted that since 2002 Malta had hosted 9.2 million visitors from cruise liners.  He added that an independent study had found that the cruise industry has generated €400 million in direct expenditure and that more than 80% of those who arrive on the island via a cruise ship exhibit interest in coming back to the country for a longer stay.

Source: Malta Independent

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