According to figures published by the NSO (National Statistics Office), 2016 was yet another record year for cruise passengers visiting Malta. The Office recorded a total of 682,222 passenger movements, which means an increase of 2% on 2015.
As per NSO statistics, which exclude embarking passengers, the 2016 landed passengers amounted to 626,082.
The Minister for Tourism Hon. Dr. Edward Zammit Lewis welcomed these positive figures for the local cruise line sector. The Minister noted that according to a study commissioned by the Valletta Cruise Port, it is estimated that in 2015 the cruiseline industry contributed around €90 million through direct expenditure into the Maltese Economy.
Minister Zammit Lewis stated that the sister island of Gozo is also reaping extensive economic benefits from the success generated by the cruise sector. In 2016, according to figures produced by Transport Malta, 19 cruise port calls were registered in Gozo, and that carried nearly 7,000 passengers.
The Minister noted that Malta is strategically positioned in the middle of the Mediterranean and also enjoys a resilient level of security while this industry is serving as an important incentive for regeneration projects and investment particularly within the Grand Harbour region.
Minister Dr. Zammit Lewis affirmed that Government is committed to continue investing and working to maintain the cruise sector on the growth path in the short and long term through more infrustractural investment and further collaboration with the stakeholders in order to attract more cruiselines toward Malta and Gozo.
Economic revenue from cruising is not the only contribution that Malta benefits from this sector. Passengers spend a few hours on local shores and enjoy a minor taste of what the country has to offer, that is, a fantastic tourist destination and a natural choice for their holidays. Many passengers are charmed by our islands during their short visit and decide to return for a longer holiday.
Valletta Cruise Port stated that 2016 was another very positive year with 42 cruise companies and 81 different cruise liners calling the port. Clearly, the cruise industry is growing year-on-year and is increasingly contributing towards Malta’s economic growth and prosperity.
During the year, Valletta Cruise Port, a subsidiary of the biggest cruise port operator worldwide, Global Ports Holding, was the recipient of two awards namely, the Best Terminal Operator by Cruise Insight and the award for Best Mediterranean Port & Destination by Cruise Excellence Awards. These awards reflect the company’s drive toward excellence and certify the efficient port infrastructure and outstanding service, including passenger flows, safety and security, besides the attractiveness of the destination itself.
Acquiring ‘Homeporting’ operations is key to the growth of this sector and there is intense competition within all Mediterranean cruise ports on this front. Government is committed to work relentlessly together with all stakeholders to attract more cruiseline companies that are interested in offering cruises that set sail and terminate at our harbour.
During 2017, this cruiseline is expected to effect 27 port calls carrying over 100,000 passengers on a Fly and Cruise programme, together with another 5 port calls where another 10,000 passengers would be visiting Malta as a port of call. The Minister for Tourism stated that thanks to such new initiatives the cruiseline sector in Malta is succesfully growing and our tourism industry, and economy at large, is benefitting both directly and indirectly.
Furthermore, the Malta Cruise Network Forum was also established bringing together in one forum all stakeholders to ensure that Malta delivers efficiently, reliably and flexibly to the cruise lines and their passengers, while ensuring alignment among all parties involved.
The forecasts for financial year 2017 raise the bar even higher, with a target of over 700,000 passenger movements through 330 port calls.