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Malta: a hub for conference business

Tourism is very important to the economy of Malta. Its key importance also stems from its positive contribution to the Balance of Payments as a result of tourist expenditure.

When we discuss tourism in today’s Malta, it is important to bear in mind that this sector today is not only involved in attracting visitors for simply leisure purposes only. In fact, tourists also visit Malta for educational, healthrelated, religious, research, commercial and business reasons. During 2013, a total of 118,000 tourists visited Malta for business purposes, equivalent to 7.5% of total and that represents an increase of 2.5% over 2012.

A portion of these tourists visited Malta for private business reasons but it is sestimated that a total of 77,000 pertained to the MICE segment, (Meeting, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions). Therefore, this means that around 5% of Malta’s tourism inflows for last year consisted of MICE delegates.

MICE delegates visiting Malta arrive from many countries with Germany leading with a 12% share of total. Other important source markets are France, Russia, Italy, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Belgium and Norway. Moreover, around 2.3% of MICE delegates to Malta originate from distant markets such as the USA, South Africa, the UAE and also Hong Kong. MICE delegates visiting Malta display some very positive characteristics which distinguish them from the average tourist. These relate to expenditure patterns, accommodation usage and seasonality. In expenditure terms, the average spend per day, excluding airfares, of MICE delegates stands at €190. This equates to 2.4 times more than the average tourist spend per day of €78.80. In terms of accommodation usage, no less than 80% of MICE delegates lodge in 5-star hotels with the remaining 20% preferring 4-star hotels. Nearly one half of MICE delegates visit Malta during the low-season months of October to March and a further 31.2% visit during the spring quarter, implying that 80.3% of MICE business visits take place outside the peak summer trimester, contributing greatly to high-yield off-peak business when the industry most needs it.

Surveys carried out by MTA indicate that MICE delegates visiting Malta rate their visit and experience very highly and positively. Furthermore, an impressive 100% of delegates Such a market operates in a very competitive scenario and therefore also necessitates aggressive marketing activity. Such initiatives are spearheaded by the Malta Tourism Authority jointly with the Destination Management Companies and the Hotels that target decision makers and conference organisers within Malta’s core markets The MTA’s MICE Segment team is also supported by an extensive overseas marketing network, which includes MICE specialists in the core markets of UK, France, Italy and Germany.

The MTA is also involved in two funding schemes for the attraction of Association Conferences. One is The MTA Association Scheme that supports international associations planning to organise their events in Malta with an annual financial assistance scheme up to a maximum of Euro 10,000 for any one event. At present this scheme is available for events taking place between the months of November to December 2014 and January to March 2015.

The second scheme is the Ministry for Finance Scheme which provides a fund aimed at assisting public sector Entities in bringing international association conferences to the Maltese Islands. The authority also offers assistance during the decision-makers’ visit to Malta to evaluate our offer for conference and incentive groups.

The MICE segment is undoubtedly a very attractive one for Malta and that its continued growth and development are instrumental to Malta’s continued success and growth as a tourism destination. Success is only ensured if competitiveness is retained and the destination’s offer is also accompanied by effective, targeted and aggressive marketing. This necessitates the availability of the most effective and contemporary structures to maximize the joint efforts of the public and private sectors to ensure that we continue to reap best possible returns for the country and all stakeholders.

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