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Air Malta’s recent announcement of reintroducing Frankfurt to its route network after a brief hiatus was greeted with universal cheers of approval. Constituted bodies, particularly organisations representing stakeholders who operate directly or indirectly in the travel sector, were understandably keen to highlight their satisfaction at this development.

On our part, we at the Malta Tourism Authority also welcomed Air Malta’s return to the German metropolis, wishing our national airline a successful and profitable operation.

The significance of this decision from the tourism perspective cannot be underestimated. Frankfurt is an extremely important gateway for both leisure and conference traffic originating from Germany itself, as well as traffic from the Nordic countries, Eastern Europe, Russia and the former Soviet states.

It is also a major transit point for long-haul markets like North America and Asia, including China, Japan and Korea, for which Frankfurt is one of the main European hubs. For this reason alone, all local interests whose business has a travel component were justifiably pleased to hear of Air Malta’s return to this major airport after a brief leave of absence.

But there’s more.

In a broader context, an increased seat capacity and a wider choice of flights is definitely positive for the country.

Ultimately, having improved connectivity is in the best interest of the destination, the operators and the travelling public.

For a group of islands such as ours, with no overland connections with neighbouring countries, it becomes crucial to have good air connectivity.

The increases in aircraft and passenger movements registered in the first half of the year are indicative of a positive trend that has prevailed for quite some time

Although there are some maritime connections and a thriving cruise sector, the overwhelming majority of our visitors have to board a plane to get to Malta.

This is why the Malta Tourism Authority and other stakeholders have been  actively pursuing a policy of engaging with carriers that already operate to Malta and with others who do not yet operate flights to and from our islands, in an effort to increase connectivity.

This has been successful in increasing the number of airlines that fly to Malta.

One can confidently say that the remarkable increases in tourist arrivals achieved over the past few years would not have been possible without this expansion in seat capacity.

Indeed, the increases in aircraft and passenger movements registered in the first half of the year are indicative of a positive trend that has prevailed for quite some time, and which augurs well for the future.

Malta’s performance in the tourism sector is dependent to a large extent upon the availability of frequent airline services from a diverse choice of departure points.

In this regard, the MTA continues to work side by side with MIA to improve connectivity for our destination, both in the key summer season and in the offpeak winter months. Thankfully, these efforts are bearing fruit.

Just this summer season alone, we welcome new operations by various airlines from cities including Belgrade, Birmingham, Bordeaux, Bristol, Brussels, Catania, Cluj-Napoca, Hamburg, Katowice, Nuremberg, Skopje, Toulouse, Tunis and Valencia, plus increased frequencies from Manchester and Frankfurt.

For the coming winter season, apart from the reinstated Frankfurt connection by Air Malta, there will be additional flights operated by other carriers from Belfast, Naples and Southend, and increased frequencies on the Manchester route.

There could yet be more to come.

Like all business sectors, the travel industry is subject to the principles of demand and supply. Demand for Malta as a destination falls partly within our sphere of influence. To some extent, we can and we do our best to influence potential holidaymakers’ decisions so that a growing number of travellers opt for the Maltese Islands as their destination of choice.

As MTA, our ongoing advertising and marketing efforts aim to keep Malta top of mind when it comes to travel choices.

The decision to actually book a trip to our islands depends on a number of elements, not least of which being the overall price (or better still, value for money) and the availability of an easy way to get here.

In our case, this means frequent, convenient, competitively-priced flights from a wide selection of departure points, all year round.

In this regard, Air Malta continues to have an important role to play.

How big that role will be depends on a number of factors. But if the decision to return to Frankfurt is anything to go by, it will be clearly that of a protagonist.

Paul Bugeja is CEO of the Malta Tourism Authority.

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Source : https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/Now-cleared-for-the-takeoff.654846

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