Four-star hotels most common choice among Spring visitors / Malta News Briefing – Thursday 24 August 2023

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Updated 1215

CBM forecasts GDP to grow by 3.7%, inflation to remain elevated: According to the Central Bank of Malta’s latest forecasts, Malta’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow by 3.7% this year, down from just above 7% in 2022 and to edge down to to 3.6% by 2025. This implies a downward revision when compared to the Bank’s previous projections. In 2023, net exports are expected to be the main contributor to GDP growth, while domestic demand is expected to lower growth due to a base effect from extraordinary investment in 2022 which offsets positive contributions from consumption. From 2024, domestic demand is expected to be the main driver of growth. Employment growth is set to moderate in the projection horizon, while wages are expected to pick-up due to relatively high inflation and a tight labour market. Annual inflation based on the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices is projected to stand at 5.9% this year, only marginally lower from 6.1% in 2022.

Four-star hotels most common choice among Spring visitors: Between April and June, a total of 630,859 visitors chose collective accommodation establishments as reported by the National Statistics Office. These visitors collectively spent 2,656,752 nights. Of this number, 46.9% opted for 4-star hotels. On average, guests stayed for 4.2 nights in these accommodations, utilizing 68.4% of the available bed capacity. The NSO highlighted that June witnessed 269 operational collective accommodation establishments, offering a combined net capacity of 19,016 bedrooms and 43,555 bed-places. (Times of Malta)

Family concerned on safety of fugitive’s partner: After the discovery of the disorderly state of the couple’s residence, the family of Marzia Maatouk, who disappeared alongside her husband, the sought-after individual Jomic Calleja Maatouk, expressed grave concerns for the woman’s safety. Jomic Calleja Maatouk, who had previously been convicted of attempting to illegally import military-grade C-4 explosives acquired from the dark web, has become unaccounted for as he failed to fulfill his bail book obligations over several days. A relative expressed the worry that Marzia might be currently facing a threat, possibly having been compelled to leave the country. Family members also noted that during a search of the couple’s house by police and civil protection personnel on Saturday, no one was present. They added that the residence appeared to have been hastily vacated. It was disclosed that Marzia had not used WhatsApp since the prior Wednesday, and incoming calls to her mobile phone were directed to voicemail, suggesting that her phone had been turned off for several days. (Maltatoday)

Morning Briefing

ID Malta refutes allegations on ID cards to foreign residents

Identity Malta refuted allegations of a criminal conspiracy where identity cards of foreign-born Maltese citizens were supposedly given to foreign residents to influence voting for the Labour Party. In a statement, the agency dismissed the notion that the Public Registry had mishandled death notifications, clarifying that these notifications lead to the collection of the deceased individuals’ identity cards. Furthermore, the agency denied the assertion that it had revoked the residence permit of the individual making these claims. This individual had previously made allegations against Transport Malta related to an alleged driving licence scam. Identity Malta clarified that the non-renewal of the temporary residence permit was the decision of the permit holder. (Times of Malta)

No to capping of rebates for foreign films – Minister

Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo stated that the irregular occurrence of high-budget films eliminates the necessity for a cash rebate capping policy. “We haven’t found it necessary to impose caps thus far because films with such substantial budgets are not an annual occurrence; they surface sporadically,” Bartolo explained. Recent attention was drawn to a payment of €46.7 million to the film company creating the sequel to the blockbuster Gladiator. Responding to queries about potential limitations on the overall rebate amount for production companies, Bartolo emphasized that the vibrancy of the film industry isn’t solely dependent on films with high earnings. (Maltatoday)

Iosif Galea released on bail

Gaming consultant Iosif Galea was released on bail after being accused of money laundering, financial offences as a former government official, and the improper use of electronic equipment a week ago. Galea, who was extradited from Germany and presented before a court last Thursday, entered a plea of not guilty at that time and was subsequently held in custody. (Newsbook)

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