We Need To Be Selective About The Quality Of Visitors That Malta Attracts

Jo Caruana - 14th January 2018

As the Corinthia Group prepares to start work on another international property, Alfred Pisani shares his thoughts on what we should expect from the Maltese economy in 2018.

The Corinthia Group is undeniably one of Malta’s best-known brands. With hotels from London to Budapest and several new properties in the pipeline, this once-small organisation has grown into an international hotel chain to be reckoned with.

Behind the Group is Chairman Alfred Pisani – the man who has been leading it since its first foray into the hospitality industry back in the 1960s. Today the chain’s humble beginnings and resolute family values still underpin so much of what it stands for, despite the fact that many of its properties have grown to become destinations loved by celebrities, magnates and royalty alike.

Now, Corinthia is forging ahead with ever more plans for expansion – this time in cities including Dubai and Brussels, and there is plenty planned to ensure the brand continues to move forward into the future.

“This year has seen us continue the consolidation and improvements in our operating results, and obtain the permits needed to proceed with the reconstruction of the Corinthia Hotel in Brussels,” begins Mr Pisani. “This hotel will match, and possibly outrun, the best of our collection.

“Plus, over the course of this year, we have also opened new horizons in providing our hotel management expertise where it has been needed, and we feel bullish that the fruit of our discussions will flourish in the near future.”

Looking into 2018, Mr Pisani explains that the Group plans to sustain its momentum both locally and overseas so as to continue diversifying its asset base. “Our plans for the year to come include our Brussels development, new hotel management agreements, and the development plans for both St George’s Bay and Hal Ferh,” he says.

Meanwhile, the Chairman talks passionately about Malta’s progress over the last 12 months. “Our islands are moving steadily forward on all fronts of business activities, be it our financial services, construction industry, tourism, gaming and others,” he details. “However, it is now of great importance that there is a common consensus in our society that our country needs to upgrade its product, especially in the service we provide and with regards to our infrastructure.”

In fact, Mr Pisani highlights a very urgent need for Malta’s infrastructure to be upgraded. “Unfortunately, this aspect of life on the island has not kept up with the private development currently taking place here – all of which is forging ahead at a very fast pace. Our country also needs to align its workforce with the needs of investors, especially as, in various sectors, the demand for skilled labour has continued to outstrip supply.”

When it comes to the overall power of our economy, the Chairman believes that Malta has a number of inherent strengths, including its strategic location and stability. “However,” he says, “our cutting edge lies in our ability to attract the attention of our neighbouring countries when it comes to entering our labour market. Nevertheless, unemployment is at a historical low and is being supported by low inflation. In addition, the current economic stability has also contributed greatly to instilling Maltese entrepreneurs with the confidence to constantly invest in their own businesses year after year.”

But he stresses that there’s a lot that needs to be done to secure our future, too. “Aside from addressing our infrastructure challenges, we need to invest further in the sectorial diversification of our economy. In this regard, the country has made a commitment to invest substantially in this area – so, my advice would be for the Government to forge ahead with this programme.

“Concurrently, we need to be selective about the quality of visitors that Malta attracts. We should move away from the numbers game, since it is these numbers that cause the greatest burden on our infrastructure. We should focus on attracting quality.”

Thinking in the long term, though, Mr Pisani believes things look good for Malta. “Thanks to our diversified economy – which is providing the necessary security needed in case of any dip that will invariably take place as part of an economic cycle – the Maltese economic outlook is optimistic.

“But we must not underestimate the fact that we are living in interesting times. It is important to seize the moment and not miss the opportunity to reach higher standards both at an economic level, as well as in relation to our quality of life in general.

“As a Group, Corinthia is more than ready – as we have constantly been throughout our history – to actively contribute in this collective effort and to push our country another step forward,” he concludes.

This interview originally appeared in Economic Vision 2018


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