Sustainability and digitalisation are the keys for the tourism industry

The Malta Chamber CEO, Dr Marthese Portelli, accompanied by Tourism Operators Business Section Chair Alan Arrigo, Policy Executive Julia Aquilina and Glenn Fenech, Senior Consultant at Seed Consultancy, met with Steve Ellul, Policy Advisor within the Ministry for Energy, Enterprise and Sustainable Development.

During the meeting, The Malta Chamber delegation presented ‘Rediscover – A New Vision For The Tourism Industry In Malta’ which includes more than 120 proposals for the tourism industry.

Some of the proposals discussed during the meeting were:

  • Continue providing schemes that support green incentives, such as stimulating investment in energy and water-efficient technologies, investment in digitalization, and projects that promote holistic and sustainable tourist experiences
  • Ensure a strong infrastructure that takes into account proper waste management as well as a stable water and electricity supply
  • Investment in Blue Economy Growth with particular investment in the diving industry
  • More afforestation projects, national parks and better countryside and valley management

“Sustainability and digital infrastructure will shape how we live and how we travel. It is crucial for Tourism operators to rebuild the industry by maintaining and improving Malta’s socio-cultural and environmental assets in order to have quality experiences for our visitors,” said Alan Arrigo, Tourism Operators Business Section Chair.


BNF Bank Awards Exceptional Team Members Who Have Contributed to 2021 Achievements

Reward and recognition remain an important part of BNF Bank’s ethos. The creation of a culture, where all colleagues believe in what they do, feel appreciated and valued, and can develop and grow their careers.

The well-attended event celebrated yet another year of exceptional resilience and hard work, with the achievements awarded being well-received by all BNF employees, who have been integral to the Bank’s growth and success in 2021. Winners were selected based on the evaluation of performance, nominations by peers, and endorsement by management.

This year’s ceremony featured the 10 Years of Dedication and Service award, the Internal Service Excellence award, and the Best Performing Corporate Banking Team award amongst many others. The AIM award for the best ideas in ‘All Ideas Matter’ was won by Maxine Scerri, whereas Mario Psaila was bestowed with The Drawbridge Award 2021, for an impressive contribution towards risk management.

Two of the most-coveted awards, Best Performing Branch of the Year, was won by the St. Julian’s Branch, whilst The Employee of the Year Award was bagged by Alison Grech for going above and beyond her responsibilities, offering valuable contributions that exemplified an exceptional commitment to her role. Another recent addition, the CEO Prize Award, was given to two deserving individuals for their innovative ideas, which aimed to significantly improve the quality of the processes and services offered by BNF Bank. Congratulations Francelle Delezio and Ann Marie Dalli.

“We are tremendously proud of, and grateful, to our team for how they have risen to the challenges and new opportunities of this year. Our people have done the best that they can for our customers, kept our essential services going, and motivated each other to maintain the high standards we have set in customer care,” said Michael Collis, CEO and Managing Director at BNF Bank. “Our award winners are not just great employees, they are great people who care for their colleagues, their customers, and their communities. We are proud to recognise the efforts of all our 2021 Award winners.”

People, Education and Ethical Business

The greatest asset of our country is its people. This has always been the case and is even more so today when progress is measured in terms of the creation and application of knowledge, success at absorbing new technologies, the attainment of environmental sustainability goals, and the implementation of good governance practices. All this requires high calibre human resources.

It is for this reason that The Malta Chamber is engaged in promoting improvements in education for the future and in fostering closer relations with those entities that are involved in research and higher education, notably the University of Malta and the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology (MCAST). In our policy document for a National Workforce Strategy published in August 2021, we proposed 56 recommendations directed at attracting, retaining, upskilling, and nurturing talent to improve Malta’s competitiveness. We must incentivise active labour market participation; contain the risks of excessive labour turnover and brain drain; identify critical skills gaps and address them through upskilling and sustainable sourcing of foreign labour; and use all resources available to us to develop better foresight of our labour market. The latter requires that we have a holistic and dynamic economic vision that provides direction and responds to changing domestic scenarios and international developments, whether political, economic, environmental or health-related.

One scenario that has changed substantially over the last couple of years is the world of work.The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the absorption of remote working technologies by businesses that had to find a way of adapting to social distancing challenges. The learning curve was steep, but those businesses that managed to drive digitalisation systematically and pragmatically through their organisations performed much better than competitors who were unprepared and slow to respond.

The lessons for the future of work are there for all to take away: build your organisation on the best people you can possibly find; keep abreast with technology and make sure you are able to harness it before your competitors; take a risk-based approach to decision-making and keep in mind that the long-term target is sustainability. When we look at countries that are doing well no matter their size, we find that they invest heavily in people and technology, try to mitigate their impact on the planet and pursue high value-added activities. Way back in 1994, the triple bottom line accounting framework was proposed, featuring the 3Ps of People, Planet, and Profit. Twenty-five years on, we are moving towards ESG reporting, where we will be obliged to look at the environmental, social and governance aspects of organisations. The inclusion of governance along side the environmental and social aspects of business is an important development that is of pertinence to Malta, as several of our recent challenges as a country were rooted in weak governance.

A well-educated population is able to value good governance, and to balance economic prosperity with wellbeing and the quality of life. Uneven progress in educational attainment threatens social cohesion and can be dangerous in a democracy. Prosperity without consistent progress in educational attainment is particularly dangerous because wealth provides the means to undertake initiatives but not the value set that enables decision-making that safeguards the common good and long-term sustainability. As we approach the next general election, let us all remind ourselves of our responsibility to engage in the democratic process with decency, reasonableness, and objectivity. As the foremost business organisation in the country, our mission is clear: to be the true voice of ethical business.

This article was first published in The Malta Chamber Economic Vision 2022.

The Malta Chamber at the forefront to embrace digital transformation in tourism

The Malta Chamber CEO, Dr Marthese Portelli, accompanied by Tourism Operators Business Section Chair Alan Arrigo, Policy Executive Julia Aquilina and Glenn Fenech, Senior Consultant at Seed, met with a delegation from the Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection to discuss the Digital Strategic Roadmap for Tourism in the Maltese Islands 2030 published by the Government last year.

During this meeting The Malta Chamber recommended the following strategic direction:

  • Acknowledge that digitalisation is an essential tool to facilitate operations and its take-up.
  • Educating on the operational advantages of going digital and using this as an opportunity for sustainable growth.
  • Financial assistance to economic operators to invest in transformation processes.

Dr Portelli emphasised that “by 2030 we would like to see Malta established as a year-round quality destination. The Malta Chamber is at the forefront in assisting the tourism industry to embrace digital transformation and innovation to improve the customer journey and facilitate operations.”

The Malta Chamber – The Industry Mover of Reputable Business

Being part of a highly reputable business organization like The Malta Chamber feels like belonging to an extended family whose formation is guided by intrinsic values, which are shared by our members, thereby facilitating growth in a vibrant resource driven economy.

In an age when a technology powered society is constantly being nurtured, it becomes even more important to connect regularly with each other to transmit trust via our ties and cultivate long lasting business prospects and relationships. At the Malta Chamber we are committed to facilitate business to business, primarily by facilitating and introducing our members to other business owners, entrepreneurs and professionals who can help them achieve their aspirations in several ways.

Firstly, the most appealing aspect of being part of The Malta Chamber is that it places you in a prime position to be a genuine industry mover. Going beyond simply serving as a platform to boost sales and attain visibility, being a part of The Malta Chamber affords you the expertise and credibility required to effectively lobby your business interests with the policy makers and decision takers that matter. It is precisely this clout that gives credence to the claim that The Malta Chamber is the strongest voice for Maltese business, as evidenced by testimonials from our members who confirm that The Malta Chamber genuinely influences and steers towards substantive business-related policy and effective implementation.

Secondly, The Malta Chamber believes that concerns are best deciphered at source by listening to woes from the horses’ mouth before attempting to pilot solutions. One needs to be in the thick of things to sharply identify the root causes that need to be addressed. To mention one example, since I took over the role of CEO at The Malta Chamber a few months ago, I repeatedly brought together operators and practitioners from the entire supply chain, some of whom come from competing fronts, to understand how to best represent local manufacturers, importers, freight forwarders, shipping agents and retailers all of whom are facing a common challenge – that of the current international trade disruptions and supply chain bottlenecks which are contributing to inflationary pressures in both strategic and non-strategic markets, which in turn has consequentially exerted strain on the operations of local businesses. While these developments have been mostly homogenous for EU member states, micro island states like Malta tend to be hurt more than most.

For this reason, we have delved into technical processes and analyses with all industry cluster stakeholders to get an unfragmented macroeconomic picture of the current state of play in the international market whilst also focusing on micro elements to fine tune our thoughts. It is very clear that while the EU’s peripheral locations benefit from relative stability on the level of the economic, political, and regulatory environment due to EU membership, the companies located in island periphery locations not only suffer from competitive pressure and handicaps vis-à-vis the EU core, but also from non-EU competition. The Malta Chamber remains determined to defend the interests of our country’s operators by addressing the pain points strategically, pragmatically, and effectively – no matter how tall the order is. Our inhouse expertise allows us to advocate and preserve the interests of all our members, efficaciously and dynamically, even though, at times they come from competing fronts.

Thirdly, we will keep pushing for a more effective green and digital transformation, which we believe should go beyond the simple allocation of funds to projects described as such. We need to ensure that funds are being diverted to projects that will actually make a difference. We need to ensure that we have the proper infrastructure and skills to implement, support and maintain this transformation. We also believe that there is the need to carry a thorough assessment of the current EU State Aid framework and push for the necessary changes we require to qualify for a regional aid coverage that is much more representative of Malta’s needs.

These are precisely the lines of inquiry that our members expect us to raise and that is why when The Malta Chamber expresses itself, people take note, especially the leadership of the country. Over the coming months with a looming general election, the Malta Chamber will continue to up its game to contribute towards an honest social dialogue. We will continue being the ‘Voice of Business’ through our distinct, substantive, well-articulated and constant dialogue that voices business opinions soundly and reflects their aspirations coherently.

This article was first published in The Malta Chamber Economic Vision 2022.

HSBC Malta Foundation supports new JAYE sustainable entrepreneurship awards

The HSBC Malta Foundation is supporting two new awards created by the JAYE Malta Foundation. The HSBC Green Entrepreneurship Award and the HSBC ESG Sustainability Award challenge students to focus on the twin aspects of innovation and new green business ideas, as well as the importance of establishing and maintaining a strong sustainability culture in every organisation.

Simon Vaughan Johnson, CEO at HSBC Bank Malta and Chair of the HSBC Malta Foundation, said: “HSBC is proud to have supported JAYE Malta for decades, helping thousands of young students build their entrepreneurial skills. In that time the importance of green entrepreneurship and sustainability has grown exponentially across all industries, including banking, where HSBC has led the way by committing itself to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier. We, therefore, recognise how vital it is for young people who want to become business leaders to focus on these issues early on and that is why the HSBC Malta Foundation suggested and is supporting these new awards in close partnership with JAYE.”

The HSBC Green Entrepreneurship Award, part of the the JAYE post-secondary programme, will go to a student mini-company that embodies the principles and spirit of green entrepreneurship. Competitors are expected to present a creative and innovative solution that considers the challenges of today’s society, such as fighting climate change, reducing CO2 emissions and promoting energy efficiency, while striving to reduce social inequalities. Entries will be evaluated based on various criteria including whether the proposal addresses a real sustainability problem, how practical and scalable it is, how well it is visualised and presented, and how adequate the answers to the jury’s questions are.

The HSBC ESG Sustainability Award, part of JAYE’s tertiary programme, will recognise young entrepreneurs who have incorporated sustainability strategies and practices into their business. These practices should be aimed at creating environmental and social progress through specific attention to Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESGs) factors. Entries will be evaluated based on specific criteria: business sustainability, environmentally-conscious approach, technology and digitisation, scalability, and presentation and soft skills. The winning concept will receive €10,000 in seed funding should the team choose to take their idea forward beyond the JAYE StartUp Programme.

Matthew Caruana, CEO of JAYE Malta, said: “These awards are part of our efforts to continue instilling ESG and Sustainability principles as a key part of any project, and not simply an afterthought. We need to highlight the importance of a sustainable and responsible entrepreneurial mindset in our programmes to prepare our participants for their future working life and for our European Competitions.”

The President visits the Malta Chamber

President George Vella visited The Malta Chamber this morning where he was welcomed by the President of The Chamber Marisa Xuereb and CEO Dr Marthese Portelli. During his visit, President Vella held talks with representatives of the Chamber on several topics and areas related to the commercial sector of our country. At the forefront was the impact of COVID-19 on the Maltese economy
and the long-term consequences brought about by the global pandemic. Furthemore, the international transport, and energy supply and price sectors, in light of the latest developments and turmoil on the global stage, were also discussed.

Talks also addressed the role of education in economic growth and how this area directly affects the trade and investment sectors. Other topics addressed were the development and protection of the environment, the media, reforms already implemented and others that are being worked on. Among other things, reference was made to recent changes in relation to the appointment of Constitutional posts as well as the Constitutional Reform.

In comments following his visit, President George Vella thanked The Malta Chamber for its professional and measured way of submitting suggestions and proposals. He added that in difficult circumstances such as those caused by the pandemic, The Malta Chamber has the necessary skills and tools to continue to make a tangible contribution to strengthening the country.

Malta Chamber meets with Executive Chairperson of the Cannabis Authority, Mariella Dimech

The Malta Chamber President, Marisa Xuereb, together with CEO Dr Marthese Portelli and Media and Communication Strategist Rachel Attard met Mariella Dimech, Executive Chairperson of the Cannabis Authority, earlier today.

During this meeting The Malta Chamber highlighted the following:

• the lack of necessary safeguards in the current legal system to mitigate the potential negative social and economic impact brought about by use of cannabis
• the lack of explicit clarity with respect to employer’s right to take measures to ensure a drug free work environment as well as to ensure health and safety standards
• concern on the legalisation of recreational cannabis products without having catered for the legal and safe supply of cannabis seeds and products through a well-regulated market which ensures that cannabis products are free of harmful substances

The Malta Chamber notes Chairperson Dimech’s commitment to consult with it on a regular basis.


HSBC Malta sponsors students reporting on sustainable living

Maltese and Gozitan students participated in a hybrid celebration of the Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) awards, an international Education for Sustainable Development programme run locally by Nature Trust FEE Malta. Four international awards were handed out to Maltese projects from a total of 330 entries.

The HSBC Malta Foundation sponsored one of the YRE awards which was presented to Gozo College Xewkija Primary School for an article investigating ways in which they could live life more sustainably. The student representing the EkoSkola Committee, in her article written during the past scholastic year, emphasises the importance of reducing plastic, and highlights ways in which the school is including this important issue in the curriculum and through subjects such as maths. The full article can be read on YRE Malta’s website.

The article focuses on how the students conducted surveys and kept data on plastic consumption and how it was being reduced both at school and in the community. The same students conducted a campaign on how to reduce litter. The school, through the four-year-long litterless campaign run by the Foundation for Environmental Education, sponsored a sustainable toolbox containing reusable items, such as reusable dishes and cutlery, encouraging students to carry their lunches in reusable containers, switching from disposable, single-use plastic items. Furthermore, the school, in its bid for carbon sequestration, invested in growing more trees at school.

Glenn Bugeja, Manager Corporate Social Responsibility at HSBC Malta said: “It’s always encouraging to see young people being so passionate about sustainability and also taking practical steps in their schools and the broader community. The YRE award gives students the opportunity to explore sustainability themes in greater detail, resulting is some great reporting as well as genuine change.”