Tourism Post-Pandemic: What is the way forward?

CEO Dr Marthese Portelli represented The Malta Chamber at the Times of Malta Business Breakfast on the panel discussing ‘Post-Pandemic: What is the way forward?’

Dr Portelli emphasised the importance of offering travellers a quality journey by focusing on offering authentic and unique experiences. She emphasised that while its important to factor how we are marketing our product, we must also keep investing in building our capabilities. This does not just mean in upskilling and reskilling workers within the hospitality sector but also in investing in a greener Malta and upping the countries’ digital transformation efforts to increase efficiency.

She also remarked that a tourist’s experience is not only limited to the hotel they are staying in but is also made up of the infrastructure surrounding it and these must be kept to high standards if we intend to keep competing with other jurisdictions. She added that cleanliness is an important element. and emphasised on the importance of enforcement. Furthermore, Dr Portelli remarked that selling bed nights are not enough in isolation and that these need to be netted off by spending power.

During her closing remarks, Dr Portelli stressed upon the fact that upgrading quality will eventually lead to an increase in visitors.

President Metsola discusses effects of war with leading businesses and employers in Malta

The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola met The Malta Chamber at Europe House in Valletta. The current challenges faced by businesses and employers in Malta and Gozo, due to importation blockage, rising prices of imports and shortages of raw materials and consumables, were the main topics of discussion.

Representatives of the Maltese industry highlighted their major concerns – transportation of goods, lack of workers and rising fuel prices – mainly consequences of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Referring to the fact that Malta is an island – facing further challenges than other larger EU Member States – key players within the local industry called for innovative solutions for islands to be more competitive and sustainable.

In this regard, President Metsola referred to a recent action taken by the European Parliament – during this month’s Plenary Session – whereby it called on the European Commission to create an Island Pact – a specific strategy focusing on island states and regions, taking into account the specific challenges encountered. She also said that access to EU funding for islands – both states and regions – must be easier, simpler and faster.

In her exchange, President Metsola referred to her discussion with European leaders during the European Council held earlier this week in Brussels. “Dismissing concerns on rising costs and inflation as a passing phenomenon, or to assume it will not get worse, would be a wrong decision,” President Metsola said.

She stated that Europe needs a steady, clear and united approach that shows that we are all in this together. President Metsola added that there is no one state solution to the social and economic impact that is currently being faced, and that nothing should be off the table.

On the increasing price of fuel, the President of the European Parliament said that the shift to renewable energy is not only a matter of green ambition but a matter of security. She explained that the European Union has agreed to restock gas reserves before winter and to increase the pace of the green transition.

President Metsola highlighted that the current challenges are felt across the board – especially by consumers – and that the European Union must be sensitive towards the needs of the employers, employees, SMEs and consumers.

ESGs are a new vector of value creation and we need to look at them through the right lens – President Xuereb

The Ministry for Energy, Environment and Enterprise, together with The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and Malta Enterprise organised an event followed by a number of workshops. The aim of these workshops were to help the local businesses get more informed about the details and the mechanics of the ESG portal that was launched last December.

During the first part of this event the Minister for Energy, Environment and Enterprise Miriam Dalli said, “that as Government we are committed to keep on incentivizing businesses to help them transition towards a greener and more sustainable operations. She added that, “through schemes offered by Malta Enterprise, companies can transform their businesses model into a more sustainable one. Since the launch of the ESG portal we have seen businesses benefitting from this transition. By investing in environmental, social and governmental aspects. Businesses have returned their best returns to their shareholders.”

In her opening statement to the local industries, the President of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Marisa Xuereb said that, “sustainability is a new vector of value and we need to look at this challenge through the right lens. This can drive innovation, operational efficiency risk mitigation and employee engagement.” Xuereb said that, “the 80/20 rule applies here too. It is quite pointless trying to measure environmental data that is of little relevance to your business. Context and relativity are everything.”

In a joint presentation, carried out by Mr. Steve Ellul, Financial consultant and advisor to the ministry together with Dr Marthese Portelli, The Malta Chamber CEO, emphasis the importance to embark on the ESG journey and its benefits to both businesses and society. Dr Portelli said that, “The Malta Chamber is proud to be at the forefront in seeing the integration of the ESG model across all businesses. The environmental goals will help reduce carbon footprint, determine more efficient energy sourcing, and set a foundation of how to eliminate unnecessary waste which ultimately reduce operational costs.” She added that, “the social aspect focuses on diversity and better work environment whereas strong governance enhances businesses ethics, increase transparency and privacy protection.” Mr Ellul spoke about how Maltese companies who are investing in sustainable projects are effectively returning better returns to their shareholders. He added that, “data made available from Maltese companies shows that those companies which outperformed the Maltese market in the last 3 years have effectively generated 34% less carbon emissions and consumed 50% less water than the average Maltese company.”

To help the local businesses transform into a more energy efficiency enterprise, the Malta Enterprise offers the Investment Aid for Energy Efficiency. During the event, Mr Kurt Farrugia, Malta Enterprise CEO, said that, “as Malta’s Economic Development Agency we are committed to support the successful green and digital twin transition in Malta. We are providing dedicated support measures for enterprises with the Smart and Sustainable Investment Grant and other schemes such as the Energy Efficiency and Skills Development. In addition, fostering an open exchange and receiving. input from our stakeholders is something which we consider important and core to Malta Enterprise’s value of customer centricity.”

The first part of the conference ended with three company representatives, who spoke about their experience in implementing ESG criteria’s and how this helped their businesses, clients and society at large. These companies were Alberta Group, MedservRegis and TridentEstates plc.

Atlas Insurance appoints Malcolm Booker as new director

The Malta Financial Services Authority has recently approved Atlas Insurance PCC Limited’s appointment of Mr Malcolm Booker as an independent non-executive director on the board of directors of the company.

Mr Booker is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, as well as a Fellow of the Malta Institute of Taxation and the Malta Institute of Accountants. He spent over 30 years working with Deloitte Malta, six years of which as CEO.

Whilst welcoming Mr Booker on board, the Chairperson of Atlas Insurance, Lawrence Zammit said: “Mr Booker’s leadership experience as well as his international exposure in varied sectors over the past years will add a new dimension to our board composition and dynamics, and will allow him to take an active role in strategic development and change of our company.”

100,000 fewer plastic bottles used thanks to an HSBC Malta backed project

A dozen potable water dispensers supported by HSBC Bank Malta have helped schoolchildren to save close to 100,000 plastic bottles. Thanks to filling up reusable bottles with a total of 32,770 litres of drinking water, students in twelve schools across Malta have benefited from HSBC Malta’s efforts in reducing plastic waste.

In the past half a century, plastic production has surged resulting in the widespread use of inexpensive polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles that are often used for soft drinks and drinking water, leaving a detrimental effect on the environment. By installing advanced fresh water fountains, twelve schools have made significant progress in reducing the use of plastic. The fountains, which include an integrated water disinfection system that guarantees the safety and quality of the water without affecting the taste, were provided by Woosh Limited.

Michel Cordina, Executive Director and Head of Sustainability at HSBC Bank Malta, said: “More than a million plastic bottles are purchased every minute globally, and more than 80 per cent of those end up in our seas and oceans. HSBC Malta has long supported responsible water consumption and the reduction of plastic waste. By funding the installation of drinking water dispensers in schools we are making an immediate practical contribution while also helping to educate young children on the importance of sustainable consumption.”

The project was undertaken with the collaboration of the Energy and Water Agency (EWA) within the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Enterprise. Manuel Sapiano, Chief Executive Officer of the Agency noted that, “This pilot project addresses the provision of clean and safe drinking water in schools, whilst avoiding the use of plastic bottles which contribute to the pollution of our environment. A true example of a win-win measure leading to a more sustainable future.”

HSBC Malta launches new Student campaign, pledges to plant a tree per new student enrolled

HSBC Bank Malta announced today that the bank has launched the Student campaign for 2022 which is available to a broader audience and is designed to support financial independence amongst the student population. Moreover, in order to strengthen its corporate sustainability commitment, the bank will keep supporting the plant-a-tree initiative and will sponsor planting one tree per each newly-subscribed student who credits the stipend into the HSBC Student Account during the entire campaign period.

The new HSBC Student Account is now available for full-time students aged 13 to 30 and is available to both citizens and residents of Malta, who attend secondary or tertiary education in Malta and Gozo or abroad. The offer is available for students receiving a direct stipend and for students with no stipend; in the latter case they are required to present an acceptance letter from the academic institution where they will become full-time students.

As per previous years, newly-enrolled students who open their accounts and deposit their first stipend will receive a €50 top-up as a gift and a welcome pack upon opening their account at any HSBC Malta branch or online by clicking the ‘Apply Now’ link on this student page.

Alvaro Teixeira, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC Malta, said: “Our new student proposition aligns with our commitment to supporting young people in embarking on their financial independence journey and simultaneously strengthens our corporate sustainability commitment thanks to our continued support of the plant-a-tree initiative. We’ve also improved our offering thanks to feedback received on our student offering, and now it is tailored to today’s student life cycle realities that have evolved over the past years.”

Social partners take centre stage in the future of skills and the impact of AI at the workplace

On Monday 20th, The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry together with the Malta Business Bureau in collaboration with the General Workers Union organised an event on the digital transformation of work, focusing on ‘Future Skills and the Impact of Artificial Intelligence at the Work Place’, two key topics from the EU autonomous framework agreement on digitalisation. The event was organised as part of the EU TransFormWork Project, which is being funded by the EU Social Dialogue Programme.

Opening the event, The Malta Chamber President Marisa Xuereb observed, ‘’real transformation is likely to involve a much higher degree of subcontracting and outsourcing, even to other countries given the greater digitalisation of processes. It will also involve a higher degree of automation that will go beyond mechanical processing that we are used to seeing in manufacturing lines. The future of automation will be more data-driven and prevalent in services such as banking, retail and distribution, hospitality, and customer support.’’

During the panel on the future of skills, Malta Business Bureau CEO Joe Tanti who moderated the discussion, stated, “For several years now we have been saying that in Europe and in Malta we have a skills problem across the board. But given the way economies are evolving perhaps the most worrying is the lack of digital skills. This is not just in relation to STEM skills but digital skills more broadly. Given the very competitive market where the demand for skills outweighs supply, another important aspect is skills retention.”

The Malta Chamber CEO Dr. Marthese Portelli commented on the fact that ‘’we need to keep up with the fast pace with which the world is changing, and constant change that comes from fluctuating consumer behaviour and trends in tech. To keep up with such changes we must address the disjointedness between industry demands and the education system.’’

Mr Josef Bugeja, Secretary-General of the General Workers Union emphasized, ‘’We cannot predict the future, but we can try to shape it. Given that change is very fast paced and ever evolving, we need a skills analysis of the whole industry to keep up. Additional skills are required for better career pathways in propelling workers’ motivation.’’

In her closing remarks, Malta Business Bureau President Alison Mizzi reminded that “for the sake of social justice, we cannot alienate ourselves from those that are going to be impacted the most and thus education and training play a key role in the whole process in making sure that we keep up with the digital skills that are needed now and for the good of the future economy.”

The event was addressed by international speakers that included senior officials of BusinessEurope and the European Trade Union Council (ETUC). Other speakers and panelists included academics and other key stakeholders from the private sector. These were Economist Dr. Rose Marie Azzopardi; Ms. Fabienne Ruggier, Director RSM; Mr. Josef Said, Director Konnekt; Prof. Alexei Dingli, Humaine; Prof. Joshua Ellul, former Chairman of the MDIA; Ms. Francesca Vella, Gadgets Malta; and Ms. Olga Finkel, Co-Managing Partner, WH Partners. The panels were moderated by MBB CEO Mr. Joe Tanti and The Malta Chamber’s Projects Manager Ms. Diana Miceli.

More information on the EU TransFormWork project can be viewed from here:

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry welcomes the FATF's decision to remove Malta from its greylist

The past year has been challenging for many businesses exposed to international payments as a result of the grey listing and has seen AML compliance costs rise significantly for operators in the financial services sector. We have also seen intensive efforts by regulatory authorities such as the FIAU and the MBR to address the concerns flagged a year ago in the shortest time possible. The target of being removed from the list has been achieved, but this is only the first step. The next objectives need to be achieving a sustainable regulatory environment whereby AML obligations will be more risk-based, proportionate to the size of the business, and effective at rebuilding our reputation as a reliable and competitive jurisdiction. Striking this balance going forward will be key to restoring our position as a leading financial services provider and developing those segments of the industry where we can have a competitive edge.

The experience of the past couple of years has built competences within the financial services industry that will not only help us be more selective as a jurisdiction about the type of business that we service, but also provide expertise in the field of regulatory compliance that will broaden the offering of our financial services industry.

It is imperative that both Government and regulatory authorities, and the private sector, collectively ensure that we do not let standards slip. We should turn this unpleasant experience into a springboard for a proactive renewal of the financial services industry in Malta.

The Malta Chamber appoints new Head of Policy and Head of Projects and EU Funds

The Malta Chamber wishes to congratulate Mr Kevin Mizzi and Dr Daniela Grech on their new appointment. Kevin Mizzi will be taking the role of Head of Policy while Dr Daniela Grech will be Head of Projects and EU funds.

Dr Daniela Grech

Daniela Grech graduated in Law and European Studies at the University of Malta. In 2007 she joined the Managing Authority for EU Structural funds, then under the Office of the Prime Minister, as Projects Manager, and then later as Senior Manager and Chief Coordinator, with her portfolio throughout the years including Research, ICT, Environment, Transport and Health projects funded through ERDF and CF, as well as different Financial Instruments and the ERDF Grant Schemes aimed at the private sector.

Prior to joining The Malta Chamber, Dr Grech was tasked with the coordination of the Communication and Evaluation of the European Structural and Investment Programmes and their socio-economic impact on the Maltese islands, whilst overseeing the Managing Authority’s training programme and procurement unit.

Mr Kevin Mizzi

Kevin Mizzi is a Masters graduate in European Studies from the University of Malta (2004) after obtaining his undergraduate also in European Studies (2001). His dissertations specialised on the effective management of EU Structural and Cohesion funds.
Within his professional duties he occupied various roles and covered several dues, which include policy development and implementation, political strategy, communications coordination, business advisory and internationalization support, content writing and social media campaigns, analytical research, EU affairs lobbying and EU funding projects management.

Since January 2021, Kevin served in managerial roles within The Malta Chamber concerning Member Relations, working closely with the Policy Development team to implement relevant Chamber membership advice, governance and future-looking policies at a micro level.

Between August 2017 and December 2020, Kevin served within the Malta Chamber Projects and Internationalisation Department, carrying out company reviews, drawing up partnering profiles and organizing matchmaking projects, also within the ambit of the European Enterprise Network. Besides support towards assisting ambitious companies to grow internationally, Kevin supported in the organisation of several incoming and outgoing trade missions, ‘Doing Business With’ conferences and ‘AI for Industry’ information seminars to ensure that policy implementation reaches Malta Chamber members at a micro support level. Furthermore, he supported the Malta Chamber’s work on internationalisation business councils and helped Malta Chamber members to tap EU funding opportunities.