The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA) said that Government had delivered a budget which averts the worst effects in the near future being caused by the pandemic. It noted that this excercise was launched in a situation where the environment determining this year’s budget is one which the tourism, hospitality and travel operators were definitely not expecting to experience earlier this year.
By the end of the first quarter of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought international travel to an abrupt halt and significantly impacted the tourism industry across the world. Malta is not set in a vacuum, accordingly the MHRA members too experienced shattering consequences. The tourism industry impacted the Maltese economy given that the sector is a major source of employment and government revenue.
The MHRA recognised Government’s willingness to work in close cooperation with the Association as a key social partner from the start of the pandemic. Significantly MHRA commends Government’s balanced and effective approach to difficult decisions which needed to be taken in unparalleled circumstances. This has ensured that thousands of employees and hundreds of operators across hotels and restaurants remained operational.
Initially the pandemic seemed to be a situation which could be controlled during this year, however, now it is widely recognised that it will be a longer journey. The Government has delivered a budget which averts the worst effects in the near future being caused by the pandemic. MHRA is assured that measures will be taken to speed the recovery as soon as the pandemic subsides.
The MHRA welcomed Government’s decision to extend the wage subsidy to employees working across the travel, tourism, and hospitality sector till March 2021. “This is a key measure which in the circumstances is being considered as a vital lifeline by MHRA members. MHRA also welcomes that the wage subsidy will be extended to employees replacing incumbents who leave their place of work. This is critical to ensure that all hotel and restaurant operations keep going, recognising the specific nature of hospitality business” it said in a statement.
“The relaunch of the vouchers scheme is also a clear message by Government that it values the recommendations made by MHRA as significantly these measures will keep sustaining the operations of the hotels, restaurants and other economic sectors in the most difficult environment.”
The MHRA also welcomed the various initiatives aimed at improving the environment and quality of life of all citizens, and the emphasis on green developments and schemes to mitigate the effect of climate change. The substantial EU funding announced in the budget in support of these measures are indeed encouraging. This budget incentivises and rewards investment in innovation and digital development which are pivotal for Malta to remain competitive in the marketplace.
The MHRA also welcomed the investment announced for the upgrading of the tourism product, in particular the embellishment of tourism zones, greening of the environment, coastal upgrading, road infrastructure, waste management and other measures.