We need to address the glaring limitations of our tourism supply chain – The Malta Chamber

The Malta Chamber of Commerce Enterprise and Industry hosted its first Tourism conference titled Rediscover, to mark the occasion of World Tourism Day.

During this event the regulator, the tourism operators and the government discussed ways on how they can work together to achieve the common good for this industry.

During her opening speech the President of The Malta Chamber Ms Marisa Xuereb said that, “this is the time for the authorities to Rediscover their vision of Tourism and implement the necessary changes for a better Malta. President Xuereb highlighted the need to shift focus away from that potentially tantalising figure of 5 million tourists per year. She stated that, “in August 2019 Malta saw record numbers of tourists – an average of around 100,000 per day. That’s equivalent to around 20% of our official population.” President Xuereb continued by questioning whether Malta can envisage 200,000 tourists roaming around on a typical day in August quite irrespective of all the investment in infrastructure. President Xuereb said that, “we need to address the glaring limitations of our tourism supply chain, particularly in terms of human resources and sourcing of food.”


The conference continued with two other speeches from the Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo and the Opposition Spokesperson for Tourism Robert Arrigo.

Minister Bartolo outlined that “A key factor for the sustainable development of tourism is the need to avoid complacency. This is an industry where one can never stop thinking about tomorrow’s opportunities and challenges. Thankfully, our country incorporates social partners like The Malta Chamber that continuously spark a healthy and widespread tourism debate by encompassing government, direct stakeholders and the wider community.”


PN Spokesperson Mr Arrigo outlined various challenging circumstances that are currently happening in Malta. However, he encouraged all parties within the tourism chain to come together towards one vision for the benefit of the hospitality industry.


The conference continued with two keynote addresses by the Malta Tourism Authority CEO, Mr Carlo Micallef and The Malta Chamber CEO Dr Marthese Portelli.

Mr Micallef compared Malta’s Tourism Performance through statistical comparativeness with other competing destinations and their strategy to achieve success. “Rethinking tourism,” Mr Micallef said, “recognises not only that the world continues to change, but that it is changing fast. Ours today is a world where generations of globalised travellers, accustomed to unrestrained and affordable travel opportunities and to an ever-increasing choice of destinations with competitive offers are facing the pressures and forces of change as our world adapts to new realities.”


Dr Marthese Portelli highlighted the challenges being faced by various stakeholders within the tourism industry. She also outlined 7 key points which require commitment and immediate tangible action from Government, which included:

1. Acknowledging that as a country we need to work towards a quality experience offering and the importance of identifying niches which compliment one another
2. Revisiting the classification regime
3. Addressing the country’s aesthetics in the built environment whilst preserving our natural landscape and promoting our history, arts and culture to encourage authentic and unique experiences
4. Proper and thorough enforcement to weave out abusive operators
5. Stopping direct competition from the regulator.


Chairperson of the Tourism Operators Business Section within The Malta Chamber, Mr Alan Arrigo concluded the conference by stating a need to weed out mediocrity. He continued by stating “that this can be achieved collectively when every part of the ecosystem delivers on its promise of a quality experience and keeps adapting to the many needs of tourists and stakeholders alike in a delicate balancing act.”


The conference included three panel discussions which included speakers both from the private industries as well as MTA and the Ministry for Tourism. The intention was to focuse our energies to improve upon the existing standards. The discussions included:

1. Valletta as a Destination
2. Malta’s Competitiveness in Tourism
3. The Right Balance for Niche Tourism   



The Malta Chamber welcomes news that Ministry for Tourism shall be establishing a Malta Tourism Observatory

The Malta Chamber is pleased to note that a few days following its Tourism Conference titled “Rediscover”, the Ministry of Tourism implemented one of its 125 recommendations proposed in its Tourism Flagship document published in November 2021 titled Rediscove supported by Seed Consultancy.

The Malta Chamber proposed the introduction of a smart and open-source Tourism Observatory which enables the use of big data and advanced business intelligence tools to monitor Malta’s tourism performance, including projections and scenario modelling for planning purposes.

CEO Dr Marthese Portelli stated “The Malta Chamber welcomes the Ministry’s news that it shall be establishing a Malta Tourism Observatory to oversee the implementation of national targets. The priority is ensuring that the recommendations proposed are implemented to ensure that Malta has a better Tourism offering.”

The Malta Chamber presents good governance document to the Speaker

A delegation from The Malta Chamber led by President Marisa Xuereb met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Malta, Dr Anglu Farrugia, to present the recently published report ‘A Strong Transparency, Accountability and Ethical Governance framework for Members of Parliament’.

During the meeting, The Malta Chamber emphasised the proposals related to the declaration of MP’s assets, with particular reference to how increasing transparency when coupled with declarations of conflict of interest can act as a safeguard for ethical behaviour.

Download the full report here.

Digitalisation – More Profit, More Efficiency, Less Stress

The latest event organised by the Young Chamber Network focused on how digitalisation can optimise businesses in terms of efficiency, profitability and less stress.

Stephanie Farrugia, a business intelligence consultant spoke about what business intelligence means for a company, and how to go from separate systems to a more efficient system collating the #data from silos into one.

James Camilleri, co-founder and CEO of Fyorin, spoke on how businesses can unlock revenues and create efficiency, around payment operations, through the use of modern financial technology.

Jack Mizzi, Chief Marketing Officer at BMIT Technologies plc, highlighted some of the risks associated with the use of cloud services, and how such risks can be mitigated.

Transparency, accountability and ethical behaviour amongst members of parliament are fundamental

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry published its report ‘A Strong Transparency, Accountability and Ethical Governance framework for Members of Parliament’. The paper reviews and presents recommendations on a key issue essential to Malta’s rule of law; transparency, accountability, and ethical behaviour, which are the fundamental prerequisites of our democratic system.

In her opening address Dr Marthese Portelli, CEO of The Malta Chamber, said “in publishing this report, compiled by the Governance Thematic Committee, The Malta Chamber is building on years of work in this area, most notably its Manifesto for Good Governance published in 2020.”

In her remarks, President Marisa Xuereb highlighted the fact that this is the first of four reports that The Malta Chamber commissioned, with the other three relating to the size of parliament, the role and conditions of MPs and party financing. President Xuereb emphasised that “it is essential that we recognise that these reforms are necessary if we are to build a framework that prevents corruption and conflicts of interest. The implementation of these recommendations could constitute the first step in renewing citizens’ trust in politics and the politicians they elect.”

Since 1987, different administrations have introduced a series of institutional mechanisms to strengthen parliamentarians’ transparent, accountable, and ethical behaviour. The latest evolution in this process is the Standards in Public Life Act, which resulted in a new parliamentary Committee and the Office of Commissioner for Standards in Public Life. As the report shows and concludes, the changes introduced to strengthen parliamentarians’ transparency, accountability, and ethical governance framework over the past decades have had both negative and positive impacts. The report concludes that this transparency, accountability, and ethical governance framework must be strengthened further as serious lacunae continue to exist.

In his presentation of the report, lead author and Chair of the Governance Thematic Committee, Mr David Spiteri Gingell said, “we have identified six areas where we must strengthen the ethical framework surrounding the role of MPs; the disclosure of assets, second jobs, lobbying, strengthening the Office of the Commissioner, instilling integrity and professionalism, and confidential counselling for MPs.”

Present during this press conference were, the NAO, the Commissioner for Standard, the Ombudsman a number of university academics.


The Malta Chamber and iGEN sign cooperation agreement

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry signed a Cooperation Agreement with iGaming European Network (iGEN) with the aim of promoting the prudent and professional growth of the gaming industry.

“As Malta’s leading business representative body, we are honoured to be partnering with such an organisation. Through this agreement, both parties will cooperate on matters of national economic policy, especially in relation to the gaming industry and related professions,” said Dr Marthese Portelli, The Malta Chamber CEO.

“iGEN is delighted to have signed an MOU with The Malta Chamber. Leveraging The Malta Chamber position and reputation will enhance the effectiveness of our lobbying efforts in order to drive positive change for our member companies, their employees and the iGaming industry as a whole”, said Enrico Bradamante, Founder of iGEN.

The agreement was signed by Ms Marisa Xuereb and Dr Marthese Portelli as President and CEO of The Malta Chamber respectively, and Mr Enrico Bradamante, Founder of iGEN.

iGEN is an association of leading iGaming companies based in Malta and operating on the European and international markets. Their mission is to give the industry a common voice and to drive positive change in the environments we operate in.

The Malta Chamber CEO outlines health sector hurdles and the way forward during 3rd industry focus session

The Malta Chamber earlier this week, held its 3rd Industry Focus Session in collaboration with EY Malta. During this conference the local health sector was discussed, with particular focus on the challenges of skills and recruitment in the industry, and how logistic hurdles affect it.

During her speech, Dr Marthese Portelli, The Malta Chamber CEO, emphasised how critical the situation is in terms of human resources and nursing staff. 50% of third-country nationals working as nurses in Malta’s private hospitals leave or change jobs in the first 6 months of arriving. Moreover, around 72% of nurses working within the private sector are foreign, non-EU citizens. Dr Portelli also noted that 63% of care workers, who help vulnerable people live as comfortably as possible, are third-country nationals, of which 9% leave in the first 6 months.

The Malta Chamber CEO identified several hurdles:

• Bureaucracy and delays in obtaining the Single Permit
• Bottlenecks at The Nursing and Midwifery Council regarding TCN certification
• Poaching by the Public Sector
• Family Reunification requirements in Malta is too high in relation to other countries

With this in mind, Dr Portelli outlined several proposals by The Malta Chamber in respect to 3 main areas: Administrative, Procurement, and Attractiveness and Competition.

• Increasing resources to address staffing issues at The Nursing and Midwifery Council in order to expedite applications and to enable processing within set time frames
• Addressing the issue of visa delays with relevant service providers to ensure that appointments are granted within a reasonable time frame
• Granting of a 3-month interim work permit under the same criteria as the approval in principle from Identity Malta

• A procurement outlook
• Use past data for proper and advance forecasting of medicines and medical equipment that is in high demand year on year
• Shorter term contracts to mitigate supply chain issues which are beyond the control of the provider
• Inbuilt clauses which allow for price fluctuations based on the current market reality

Administrative and Competition:
• Widening the scope of the Key Employment Initiative scheme to attract individuals in possession of certain critical skills and qualifications that are running short in the labour market
• Carry out a structured informative campaign which encourages Maltese students to pursue a career in social care and healthcare

A keynote speech was also delivered by John Marsh, Partner in EY People Advisory Services who is also a Non-Executive Director for NHS Surrey Heartland Integrated Care System with the aims of improving population health and integrating health and social care services.

The conference also included 2 panel discussions which discussed:
• Human resources and workforce hurdles within the health care sector
• Logistical and supply chain challenges in the medical field

Melita Limited marks World Charity Day

Melita Limited marked World Charity Day, which took place on 5 September, with a series of donations to organisations including Foodbank Lifeline Foundation, St Jeanne Antide Foundation, Puttinu Cares, ALS Malta, Hospice Malta, The Richmond Foundation and Inspire Malta. The support included both financial donations as well food donations worth thousands of euro.

Charlene Ciantar, Communications Manager at Melita Limited, said, “Melita continues to support the work of countless NGOs that do so much to help those in our communities who are vulnerable. Through direct action like this latest set of donations given to mark World Charity Day and through administrative support for The Melita Foundation, we continue to play our part in making sure that adequate support is available for all those who need it.”

Making EU Products More Sustainable

GABRIEL CASSAR – Senior Policy Executive – Sustainable Development

The European Union is a global leader in setting ambitious targets to improve the sustainability of its member states and influencing third countries to do the same. Recently, the European Commission has placed its focus on the way we manufacture, use, recycle and dispose of products by publishing the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products regulation (ESPR), which aims to improve circularity of products marketed in the EU.

This is seen as one of several important measures towards achieving the goals set out in the EU Green Deal, namely, to increase sustainability and make Europe the first climate neutral continent by 2050. The proposal will introduce new ecodesign and information requirements which products will have to meet to be placed on the EU market. The latter will include, for instance, information on product performance, repair, recycling and dismantling, handling, among others. All this information will be collected in one common data carrier, called the Digital Product Passport (DPP).

The Malta Business Bureau in principle sees the proposal as a way to further streamline the value chain and improve the sustainability of products, reducing waste where possible through an information-driven approach. Information gaps are some of the main challenges which inhibit circularity truly being applied to the way we manufacture, use, repurpose and dispose of products. This regulation thus represents a key opportunity to develop new circular markets for our products.

Implementing this in the form of a regulation will also help improve the functioning of the EU single market by setting the exact same requirements across all member states. This in turn provides increased legal certainty, lower costs, and a level playing field for businesses seeking to market their products in the EU.
Despite the positives, the ESPR proposal has raised several key concerns which must be considered seriously by EU and National policymakers. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is that the new requirements will undoubtedly introduce additional financial and administrative costs for businesses in a time where they are already contending with supply-side issues and rising input prices. The proposal mentions that SMEs will be supported through financial schemes and written guidelines to ease the transition. This part will be crucial to support a section of businesses with limited resources and which will be hardest hit by the legislation.

More generally, policymakers need to be cautious of overburdening businesses with multiple pieces of legislations which overlap and introduce similar requirements. There are currently several pieces of EU legislation adopted, or still being discussed, which introduce similar environmental or information requirements. Clear examples are the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the REACH Directive on chemicals, and the Empowering Consumers for the Green Transition Directive. All these separate initiatives must be efficiently streamlined to avoid double-regulation and ever mounting administrative costs for businesses.

Aside from the related costs, requiring businesses to disclose certain information on their products will introduce competitiveness concerns over access to confidential data and trade secrets. The proposal does not adequately delineate which type of information will be available to what actor along the value chain, leaving the possibility that actors will have access to information which they do not need.

Finally, the successful implementation of the ESPR will require a huge, coordinated effort between various actors across the supply chain. The most precarious of these relationships will be between EU businesses and non-EU suppliers, with the former relying on the latter to supply accurate and timely information on the materials being used. It may often prove difficult to gather all information from the non-EU suppliers. Legal safeguards consequently should be introduced to ensure EU businesses do not ultimately pay the punitive price for their non-EU suppliers’ shortcomings.

While the ESPR will be a complex and challenging policy to implement, it certainly is a welcome initiative if formulated with the appropriate caution. In this regard, the setting up of a consultative Ecodesign Forum involving affected industry players, to help formulate ecodesign requirements is a positive development which will ensure the business voice is heard and accounted for.

On its part, the MBB is following the ESPR negotiations at EU level within the European Parliament and Council of the EU. We encourage businesses with an active interest in this area to get in touch with our policy team for more information or with any feedback or concerns.

Gabriel Cassar is a Senior Policy Executive for Sustainable Development at the Malta Business Bureau. The MBB is the EU advisory organisation of the Malta Chamber and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, and a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.