THE TOURISM ISSUE Issue 07 May/June 2011
EDUCATING TOURISM EMPLOYEES BRANDING MALTA
No other watch is engineered quite like a Rolex. The Datejust, introduced in 1945,
was the first wristwatch to display the date through an aperture on the dial. Its unique magnifying Cyclops eye, added a few years later, became recognised as a Rolex design standard. Now in a larger, more distinguished 41 mm size, the Datejust II is a natural evolution of a classic. The Datejust II is presented here in Rolex signature Rolesor, a unique combination of 904L steel and 18 ct white gold.
t he d ate jus t ii
LEVEL 0, BAYSTREET, ST. JULIANS, MALTA, T + 356 2372 0712 307, FERRERIA PALACE, REPUBLIC STREET, VALLETTA, MALTA, T + 356 2123 3877
Welcome It’s not technology that is the world’s biggest industry. And neither is it weapons, construction or manufacturing. Rather, it’s travel – despite the uncertainty of the industry, from the turmoil in North Africa to increasingly unpredictable climatic conditions, travel continues to fuel most of the world’s economies. And it will always be so for one simple reason – that we have this constant craving to be somewhere else. As Alain de Botton writes in his magnificent study, The Art of Travel (Penguin), “What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home.” In this issue of Money, we focus on tourism, a pillar of the local economy in which, whether explicit or less direct, we all have a share and a responsibility.
collaboration between MHRA, hotels and restaurants. The irony, however, is that while the number of arrivals keeps increasing, the profits of hotels and restaurants are diminishing. Institute of Tourism Studies Chairperson Claire Zammit Xuereb tells Money how the institute is striving to nurture tomorrow’s industry leaders by teaching them what is relevant in today’s industry and tomorrow’s challenges. Michael Refalo proposes interesting thoughts on how world affairs influence Malta’s tourism, Chris Mifsud highlights the element of uniqueness that we need to attract quality tourists, while Victor Paul Borg laments how Malta’s reckless penchant for hunting, especially in spring, gives the country the kind of bad publicity that harms our tourism industry. Read on and enjoy.
In an interview with Money, MHRA president George Micallef explains how, within last year’s negative context, Malta still managed to do well in tourism, from improving the mix of arrivals to increased
8 George’s marvellous medicine
33 ITS IS all about the people
There is a lot to be done to keep our tourism sector profitable and sustainable, says MHRA president George Micallef. Yet the hard work never makes the news, he tells Victor Calleja.
Investing in students’ people skills and teaching them how to think outside the box will help Malta keep a competitive edge in the tourism industry. Institute of Tourism Studies Chairperson Claire Zammit Xuereb speaks to Veronica Stivala.
12 Keeping bed company
37 Have a nice stay
Two leading hoteliers tell Money about their investments, operational costs and projections for this summer.
Upgrading accommodation establishments helps the local hospitality industry improve Malta’s touristic product, says Chris Galea, Malta Enterprise.
17 Tourism – what destination? Dr Gavin Gulia Labour Spokesman for the Tourism sector, outlines tourism’s challenges to Vanessa Macdonald.
21 Welcome to Malta – add to cart To attract quality tourists, we need an element of uniqueness. Yet how do we brand our niche offerings, asks Chris Mifsud.
25 Signs of the times Despite the upheaval in North Africa, Malta’s tourism industry has registered progress. Caution is the name of the tourism game, says Michael Refalo.
28 Shooting at tourism This year’s spring hunting season has reignited a lot of bad publicity about Malta and harms the country’s tourism industry, says Victor Paul Borg.
39 Business destination SkyParks Business Centre sets new standards in corporate commercial space, says General Manager Alan Borg.
43 Incredible Indian
Editor Anthony P. Bernard Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Consulting Editor Stanley Borg Email: email@example.com Design Porridge | www.weareporridge.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Printing Progress Press Distribution Mailbox Direct Marketing Group Hand delivered to businesses in Malta, all 5 Star Hotels including their business centres, executive lounges and rooms (where allowed), Maltese Embassies abroad (UK, Rome, Brussels, Moscow and Libya), some Government institutions and ministries. For information regarding promotion and advertising call Tel: 00 356 2134 2155, 2131 4719 Email: email@example.com
Money tries to keep up with Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok.
48 Accommodating architecture Hotel architecture needs an inbuilt flexibility that adapts to market conditions, Keith Cole from Bezzina & Cole tells Kris Micallef.
Money is published by BE Communications Ltd, 37, Amery Street, Sliema, SLM 1702
It’s another day in paradise for Mona Farrugia.
All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written permission. Opinions expressed in Money are not necessarily those of the editor or publisher. All reasonable care is taken to ensure truth and accuracy, but the editor and publishers cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions in articles, advertising, photographs or illustrations. Unsolicited manuscripts are welcome but cannot be returned without a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
66 Please like me
The editor is not responsible for material submitted for consideration.
63 High tea
Amit Raab suggests three ways to improve your business fan base on Facebook.
chosen by Nicky Hayden – MotoGP Racer chosen by Nicky Hayden – MotoGP Racer Touch screen watch with 8 functions including Touchmeteo, screen watch with 8and functions including altimeter compass. meteo, altimeter and compass.
IN CH WITH IIT YOUR O IN TOUCH TOUCH CH W W WITH TH HY Y YOUR OUR UR TIME TIME
Experience more at www.tissot.ch Experience more at www.tissot.ch
Jos Debono Jewellers - 151 St.Lucia Street, Valletta Tel: 2124 4839 JosPavillion DebonoJewellers Jewellers- 43 - 151 St.Lucia Street, Valletta Tel: 2124 4839 Republic Street, Valletta Tel: 2124 9222 Pavillion Jewellers 43 Republic Street, Valletta Tel: 2124 9222 Pavillion Jewellers - Independence Square, Victoria, Gozo Tel 2156 3219 Pavillion Jewellers - Independence Square, Victoria, Gozo Tel 2156 3219
George’s marvellous medicine There is a lot to be done to keep our tourism sector profitable and sustainable, says MHRA president George Micallef. Yet the hard work never makes the news, he tells Victor Calleja.
eorge Micallef, who runs two hotels in the north of Malta and is an internationally recognised authority on tourism, has been president of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association for nearly two years. Tourism is quite an unstable sector, with world affairs and climatic conditions causing all sorts of interruptions on all projections, plans or trends. From 9/11 and volcanic ash to world recession and the ongoing crisis in Libya, tourism has had its ups and downs and seemingly miraculous turnarounds. And, as Micallef says, the internet has drastically changed the tourism industry. Micallef is generous with his praise where it is due and constructive when he is critical. He believes that even if he, or his association, are not followed in their suggestions and recommendations, at least they should be consulted in good time before anything drastic is introduced that affects tourism in general. These last few years we have had a roller coaster ride in tourism to Malta. Disastrous years in arrivals and revenue were followed by a mini-boom. Then a recession to hopefully end all recessions hit the world so badly that all tourism worldwide seemed to be on its dying bed. Then 2010 heralded an unbelievable turnaround in numbers. Micallef is all praise for the authorities for this turnaround and for managing to attract such a big number of arrivals. “The success was not just in numbers. We are also managing to improve the mix of arrivals, not just in terms of source markets, but also segments and visitors profile, through effective and aggressive marketing.” So for him it’s practically full marks for the authorities, including the Malta Tourism Authority.
8 - Money / Issue 07
Victor Calleja is the Managing Director of Crest Limited which is involved in publishing, marketing and anything concerning the written word.
Yet there is a nagging underlying problem which needs to be resolved. The numbers may be good, but ironically, the profits of hotels and restaurants are dwindling. And since investors want, rightly so, a return on their investment, this scenario will force establishment owners to invest less and, in extreme cases, opt for closure. Is there a solution? “The solution is not easy,” says Micallef. “Moreover, crippling increases such as those for utilities, do not help.” What can government do, I ask, worrying that Micallef might even invoke some state subsidy as used to happen in the past. Yet the MHRA president is adamantly against subsidies. Instead, what he wants to see is more creative ways of generating income instead of just pushing up taxation.
If you look at the market share of low cost carriers, you will clearly realise that they are making up for the lost tour operating business which, as everyone knows, has been on the wane these last few years. Tour operators remain hugely important to us and we will continue to work hard with them and support them, but the declining trend is undisputable. People now travel as individuals and book directly. Low cost carriers are a reality that we cannot do without.” Are we, I ask Micallef, too dependent on Ryanair? “Ryanair now has more than 20 per cent of the traffic, which is a sizeable chunk. But as with every commercial arrangement you have to make sure the conditions are right for you and for the opposite side. It is not because it is Ryanair – it is because we are
With regards to arrivals, Micallef also refers to the higher amount of visitors from Italy and Spain. In fact, Italy is now our second largest market after Britain. This obviously is welcome news. However, does this present Malta with new, difficult challenges and are we prepared for them? “Definitely these are new challenges. We have to meet them and readjust ourselves. Our food offering and even opening hours have to be rethought. MHRA is very active in the restaurant section and a lot of work is being done to assist this sector.” Micallef loses a bit of his confidence when he talks about restaurants. “It’s a harder task to reach out to restaurants, which are of course more numerous than hotels. Most of them
Our food offering and even opening hours have to be rethought. “When government invested more money towards the low cost carriers to open new routes, this move generated income to far outreach what was spent. And it is well known that every tourist arrival injects a huge ripple effect on the economy and not just hoteliers and restaurants enjoy that benefit.” In Malta we increased VAT on accommodation at a time when Germany and Greece decreased it. “I know that there were also other countries that increased their VAT rate, but if we can stimulate growth by way of improving our competitiveness, this will benefit not just the tourism industry, but Malta’s economy,” Micallef says. How important are low cost carriers to Malta? “They are vital to us as they have improved accessibility through a very costefficient means. The changes in the way people book and travel have made low cost carriers an integral part of the equation.
dependent on them. On the other hand we also have to be wise, as we do not have the luxury of oversupply that allows us to be selective and refuse business to Malta either.” What about the national carrier? “Air Malta plays a vital role, and we cannot have a situation where it does not operate here. Even if it is privatised or if it strikes some merger agreement, we have to make sure that there are conditions in place to keep it operating in Malta.” When asked about Air Malta and its current troubles, Micallef does not point any fingers and just says, “Let’s move on and see what the best way forward is. The restructuring had to happen – even IATA way back in 2008 was telling the aviation industry that it had to restructure, with the secretary general referring to the global airline industry as being structurally sick. So now is the time to look forward and start afresh and hope that the airline’s restructuring will be properly undertaken as Air Malta is vital to our economy.”
find it difficult to carry out extra administrative tasks like filling in forms and questionnaires which we regularly need on a national level to enable us to evaluate the situation properly.” Micallef says that a lot of these restaurants, cafés and bars are ownermanaged so time is rather a problem – yet if these outlets do not provide statistics, MHRA can never have a full picture of what the restaurant sector is going through. “But it is getting better and the feedback is slowly coming in,” Micallef says. In Malta there are about 130 hotels but there are around 1200 licensed restaurants, so the task is tougher on the restaurant side. “We are meeting a lot of them and holding seminars and workshops but this is just the first step.” In fact MHRA has proposed that an indepth study is conducted in collaboration
Money / Issue 07 - 9
Frequency of visits to Malta with the MTA to serve as a basis for the drawing up of a development policy. This policy should address the key issues affecting the sector and help it realign itself with new trends and developments taking place in the tourism industry, while supporting the long-term sustainability of this sector. In a wider context, does Malta need to spruce up its product? “On the whole, we have a very good product,” Micallef says. “Malta is blessed with various attributes and a lot of progress has been achieved. But the general upkeep needs more than a sprucing up. We also need to work out a national policy for aesthetics. Some Local Councils for example go out of their way to use paint in a very creatively garish way. And road works and road diversions leave us exasperated – there doesn’t seem to be a focal coordinating point for design and completion. “We cannot ever stop reiterating that we need to do more to make sure we keep our visitors – and the locals – happy. Hospitality, which we Maltese are known for, needs to remain strong. Statistics show that we have a very good repeat visitors rate, a very good indicator of how we fare with the visitor. The figure for repeat customers is around 55 per cent, which is a commendable feat. Even in the restaurant sector, contrary to some people’s perceptions, most visitors give the thumbs up for our food fare and thisis shown in regular surveys conducted by MTA.”
First-time versus repeat visitors
One of every three tourists visiting Malta have been to the island on previous occasions
Air Malta plays a vital role, and we cannot have a situation where it does not operate here. Even if it is privatised or if it strikes some merger agreement, we have to make sure that there are conditions in place to keep it operating in Malta.
Intelligent home solutions
Micallef’s parting comments are all positive. “We sometimes sound as if we are criticising a lot, but the amount of times we agree with the relevant authorities goes unreported in the media. I would be mad to say that there isn’t a lot to be done to keep our tourism healthy and profitable enough to ensure long-term sustainability, but one thing I can foretell is that hotels, restaurants and tourism are here to stay for a long time. We might have blips and downward trends but tourism will remain a mainstay of our economy even more than it is today.”
Read on. Join us Money Magazine 10 - Money / Issue 07
With years of experience, Sanyo is constantly creating new ideas in conditioning solutions to help businesses by delivering multi-zone options, space-saving and environmentally friendly designs. Mekanika, the exclusive representatives for Sanyo in Malta offers its customers intelligent solutions to maximise comfort, efficiency and sustainability. Sanyo’s innovations and a continuous program of research and development have ensured that Sanyo’s products remain at the forefront of innovation. The innovative products offer the ideal solution for lower running costs, energy savings and decreased noise levels for any type of building. Mekanika is Malta’s leader in electrical, mechanical, heating and ventilation systems, specialised extra low voltage systems, lifts and escalators. Mekanika has made its mark on the industry by ensuring quality products and reliable customer service to both residential and commercial clients.
New Peugeot 508. Quality time.
Combined fuel consumption (l/100 km): from 4.4 to 7.3. CO2 emissions (g/km): from 115 to 169.
Michael Attard Ltd. – National Road, Blata l-Bajda – T: 2123 8854 – M: 79 406 607 – E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeping bed company Two leading hoteliers tell Money about their investments, operational costs and projections for this summer. a full reliance on low cost carriers or having a reduction of seat capacity from our national carrier. Are soaring operational costs hindering the Grand Hotel Excelsior from making further upgrades and investments?
Tourism is increasingly becoming an unpredictable sector – how do you cope with such uncertainty? We are lucky since the Grand Hotel Excelsior can cater for practically all market segment areas. We are very strong in corporate and group business but we are also performing very well in tour operator leisure business. In the case of e-commerce, we are investing in a number of tools, including a revamped website to ensure visibility in the cyber market. How has the turmoil in North Africa affected the local hotel industry? Initially, the effect was positive in so far as business to the hotel industry. It was a pleasure being able to support the evacuation process when all the eyes of the world were focused on Malta. We were also coordinating with the major embassies in the evacuation effort. However, the industry 12 - Money / Issue 07
suffered the aftereffects of the turmoil since people in northern Europe and outside Europe tend to assume that we are very close to the fighting going on in North Africa. There have been reports of lost business due to the trouble. In our case, the impact has been marginal. How has the Grand Hotel Excelsior performed in the past year?
Soaring operational costs will remain a constant concern to our operation. Energy bills alone have shot up by over 40 per cent in the past year. Still, irrespective of costs and any eventual negative performance, upgrades to the property will remain ongoing. The quality of the product is a critical success factor for our operation. We employ 20 staff members who are engaged in a number of ongoing project initiatives within the property – these employees work independently of the day-today maintenance operations. Local hotels, such as the Grand Hotel Excelsior, have made massive investments to improve their offerings. Yet the country’s infrastructure still lacks in some areas – does this reflect badly on hotels?
2010 has been our most successful year since inception. We have now established ourselves in the market and our existing performance parameters are very much in line with the industry averages.
Improvements have been made in recent years and the ongoing projects around and in Valletta will definitely be a boost to our hotel and the hospitality industry. However, a lot remains to be done to improve the environment.
How important is the survival of the national carrier for local tourism?
Do the service levels of local hotels match those of hotels abroad?
The survival of Air Malta is not only important – it is crucial. Being an island, Malta is completely dependent on airline accessibility and we simply cannot even think of having
I believe that hotels in Malta give very good value for money. You can get better value in some destinations and less value in others. However, our guest satisfaction results in
the superior hotels in Malta compare very well with hotels abroad. Is the Grand Hotel Excelsior planning any further investments in its offerings in the near future? Investment in hotel improvements are ongoing. We are presently focusing on our picturesque outside areas. Future plans include investment in more conference and meeting space.
Energy bills alone have shot up by over 40 per cent in the past year. What are the projections for summer 2011? Considering that accessibility of available seats are in line with last year’s capacity, we are cautiously confident that we can maintain last year’s parameters. However, it is increasingly a last minute booking situation and it is always more difficult to predict future performance. What would you improve in the packaging of Malta’s tourist product? Rather than presenting Malta as simply a leisure destination, we have to highlight the historic and cultural assets of the island. We also have to sell the island as the ideal conference and incentive destination.
It is critically important that the national airline survives and that the plans to bring it to a situation of long-term viability are put into place as soon as possible.
Tourism is increasingly becoming an unpredictable sector – how do you cope with such uncertainty? Tourism has always been an industry which is affected by many different aspects. If one simply looks at the past year, we have seen economic turmoil in many of our core markets, a volcanic ash crisis, uprisings in various parts of North Africa and fluctuating oil prices. Dealing with such fluctuations is something that is quite normal for us and while we would obviously prefer a long-term stable environment, the reality is that we have to work around situations as they arise. How has the turmoil in North Africa affected the local hotel industry? Primarily one has to state upfront that the main area of concern is the overall affect on people’s lives that the situation has within the affected countries. That is something that should always be kept at the forefront of any discussion around the issue. On the business front, I think that on the whole the local tourism industry has not been affected in any major way. The reality is that any instability in the region is not beneficial for anyone and we are probably not noticing any major movements in our numbers because the initial 14 - Money / Issue 07
Winston J. Zahra, Chief Executive Officer, Island Hotels Group
uprising in Tunisia and Egypt would have had a positive effect on our numbers, which is somewhat balanced off by any negative effect caused by the misconception that Malta is much closer to the problems in Libya than it really is. Ultimately the sooner the problems are solved the better for all concerned. How have the hotels within Island Hotels Group performed in the past year? 2010 was generally a good year for our Group with a great deal of activity. How important is the survival of the national carrier for local tourism? It is critically important that the national airline survives and that the plans to bring it to a situation of long-term viability are put into place as soon as possible. Are soaring operational costs hindering Island Hotels Group from making further upgrades and investments? The main area of cost that has been of concern over the past two years is electricity tariffs. We have however been as proactive as possible to try and reduce our consumption by continuing to improve on our overall efficiency. In 2010 we reduced the overall units consumed by five per cent, although due to higher rates the overall cost in real terms was still
much higher. However while operational cost pressures are discouraging they do not deter us from taking our Group further. Local hotels have made massive investments to improve their offerings. Yet the country’s infrastructure still lacks in some areas – does this reflect badly on hotels? In recent years a lot has been done, although there still remains a lot more to do. The better we maintain our country the better image we leave with visitors. We have a great deal to offer and we all have to strive to ensure that every part of the island is given the attention it deserves. If we do not, then it is ourselves as a country that we let down and not any particular industry. We should maintain our country for ourselves and our own wellbeing. If we do, anyone visiting the island will leave with a better impression as a result as well. Do the service levels of local hotels match those of hotels abroad? One cannot simplify things in such a way. I believe that the Maltese are more hospitable than many and that the friendliness found on the island is as good as, if not better, than many other destinations. However the reality is that you will find people with a full range of experiences both locally and
internationally. The most important thing is that we continually drive the message home across the island that we depend on tourism in a great way for our economy to flourish and it is very important that anyone who comes into contact in whatever shape or form with visitors to our island shows them the type of Maltese hospitality that will be talked about when they go back home. Is Island Hotels Group planning any further investments in its hotels’ offerings in the near future? We have some exiting plans for the years ahead, the most immediate of which will be the development of the old Hal Ferh complex in Golden Sands into a new high end resort. What are the projections for summer 2011? Unless there are any more surprises round the corner I believe the summer ahead will be a healthy one which should match the results of last summer. What would you improve in the packaging of Malta’s tourism product? We can always do more on the overall look and feel of many parts of the island and we must constantly focus on the overall level of hospitality delivered to people who visit us.
Vanessa Macdonald is a freelance journalist in her spare time, covering a wide range of lifestyle and economic issues.
It is really difficult to assess the real impact of tourism on the economy at present. We have talked for years about setting up the Tourism Satellite Account to capture the statistics and benchmark properly. Do you feel it would help? Tourism’s multiplier effect is second to none and it extensively impacts other businesses of the economy. This makes it more important for Government, and indeed all sectors of the economy, to be precisely informed by the effects of tourism results. Government is confronted with decisions that need to be taken from time to time and consequently it needs to be armed with accurate and
reliable information that can bear the best results. We often heard Government officials including the Prime Minister himself quoting conflicting figures about tourism’s contribution to the GDP – this is an indication that we do not have precise official figures. The Tourism Satellite Account has proven to be one of the most comprehensive systems of measuring the real impact of tourism on the economy. Hotels are not losing money – but they are certainly not making as much as they were. The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association reports that profitability in 2010 was 13 per cent below that in 2008 in spite of the improvement in arrivals
Air Malta provides the comfort of a sense of national loyalty which no other airline can ever provide. and bed nights. Aren’t you worried that this will have a negative impact on their investment decisions for the future?
and the current results present a major challenge as hotels are a very important pillar for tourism’s long-term sustainability.
This is indeed worrying. If the decline in profitability continues and becomes a trend, it will not only undermine investment in established businesses and products, which is required in order that they retain a competitive advantage, but it will also deter new investment in this very important sector. There is a correlation between profitability and investment,
Malta’s gross valueadded was reported to have fallen by 12.8 per cent in 2009, while our competitors’ improved. This is being blamed on higher operating costs – and yet hotels must now pay VAT, and we all know the impact of water and electricity bills. Are they just moaning or are they justified?
Money / Issue 07 - 17
I often hear this comment, but having met and discussed this issue with a number of hoteliers since my appointment as main spokesman for the opposition on tourism, I can say that I sympathise with hotels that are faced with this predicament. The figures you are referring to are those quoted by the MHRA, and I believe that their sources were Eurostat and NSO statistics. I am convinced that the reason for this was the astronomical rise in the energy costs which is the highest operating expense after employment. The future of Air Malta is very closely tied to that of tourism in Malta, especially since low cost airlines have no loyalty to the island, only serve routes that are profitable and will not invest in routes to destinations merely because they could turn out to be new business or tourism markets. Is the Labour Party worried about how vulnerable we would be without Air Malta or with a severely curtailed one? With Air Malta contributing to over 50 per cent of our tourist arrivals, tourism’s future hangs on putting Air Malta back on its feet, and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the national airline. As you say, Air Malta provides the comfort of a sense of national loyalty which no other airline can ever provide. Having said this, we cannot dismiss the importance of securing
Official statistics so far indicate that the average stay is continuing to decrease – this will have an impact on occupied nights in Malta. sufficient seat capacity to our islands, including those provided by low cost airlines, as long as the conditions offered to these airlines, or any other airline, do not create any unfair disadvantage to our national carrier. The figures for March show an increase of 22.6 per cent in passenger arrivals, in spite of the fact that the North African conflict had been underway since January. Do you think that we can sigh with relief yet? The figures registered for passenger movements in March and indeed for the first quarter show a significant increase. Increases in passenger movements were expected to be higher right up to mid-May, mainly because of the extra seat capacity provided by the Ryanair base, which started its operation in late May last year. The volcanic ash experienced in March last year had certainly contributed to a significant drop last year, which explains why March this year registered such hefty increases. However one must caution that the official statistics so far indicate that the average stay is continuing to decrease – this will have an impact on occupied nights in Malta. We have to see how if this trend will continue in May and onwards, both in terms of arrivals and average length of stay.
The right gifts Corporate Gifts by Unpaused has just launched a new web showcase for its branded gifts. Cerruti, Nina Ricci, Ungaro, Cacharel, Jean Louis Scherrer and Charles Jourdan products are available for viewing along with a range of features to enhance the user experience. Clients can search by brand or by the 12 different product categories. As soon as the desired product is found the site immediately informs clients if there is stock availability. The site also offers a number of product images, a zoom option, visuals of the product packaging, technical information as well as what kind of personalisation can be made on the chosen item. Online queries are usually processed in less than 24 hours. Visit www.thepowerofbrands.com/unpaused
18 - Money / Issue 07
The MHRA reported that there were 1.75 million unaccounted for bed nights – implying that there is rampant abuse, which translates into lost revenue for the government and unfair competition for its members. What is Labour’s take on these numbers? I have been hearing about his problem for some time, and I believe that even the Gozo Tourism Association was reporting similar abuses of unlicensed accommodation in Gozo, and yet Government seems unperturbed about this state of affairs. If Government is convinced that MHRA and GTA’s claims are unfounded it should then come out and say so, otherwise government has an obligation to act and curb this abuse, which constitutes loss of revenue for Government, unfair competition and unregulated business. I am not in a position to comment about the accuracy of the figures quoted by MHRA, but the figure quoted is so significant that even if it is much less, Government needs to act, and act fast.
wE makE surE wE takE carE of EvErything, right down
TO THE LAST DETAIL
We’re committed to delivering a quality product and service which is reliable, flexible and honest. There’s no such thing as one size fits all, every event is unique and we set no limits as to where, when and how large or small your event is. We listen first, and together design a programme to fit. Our ideas and approach are as fresh as our ingredients and we take care of everything, right down to the last detail. We offer more than just catering and we always deliver peace of mind.
www.islandcaterers.com.mt Contact us on email@example.com or call 2375 1930 Exclusively at: Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Golden Sands (The Golden Sands Ballroom, The Crescent Suite, The Coral Suite) Radisson Blu Resort, St. Julians (The Grand Ballroom, The Carlson Suite, The Marylouise Suite, The Edge) The Coastline Hotel, The Mediterranean Conference Centre (La Vallette Hall, Sacra Infemeria, La Cassier Hall) Casino Maltese, Saluting Battery, Notre Dame Gate, Razzett L’Abjad, Palazzo Tal-Virtu, Limestone Heritage.
Chris Mifsud is a director of a marketing communications agency and holds an MBA from SDA Bocconi, Milan.
Welcome to Malta – add to cart To attract quality tourists, we need an element of uniqueness. Yet how do we brand our niche offerings, asks Chris Mifsud.
won’t be referring to Malta as ‘the rock’, that patronising, tiresome label splashed out unoriginally on countless social network statuses to encourage the viewer to infer that the person posting their drivel has moved beyond our shores. And why the diminutive term really? Though I might not be the most patriotically inclined of my compatriots, I’m going to try and convince you, dear reader, through a short branding expedition that there really might be more brand capital to this Mediterranean island state we call home. Until now, the tried and tested brief when branding Malta has been based on the ubiquitous promise of sun, sand and sea. The national branding agents have taken the few undisputable geo-physical attributes of Malta and leveraged them into tourist dollars year after year. Successfully to a large extent too I might add. What better to hedge your bets on than the promise of fair weather and access to stretches of sparkling Mediterranean coast? I’m not going to venture into the necessity of commensurate infrastructural standards – we sometimes fail to recognise the leaps we’ve made in some areas because of the failures we’ve witnessed in others.
Inevitably infrastructural advances hold a works in progress status for every nation so Malta needs to keep playing a catch-up game. Anyway, let’s explore the current marketing plan we follow to brand Malta to our tourists. As with every strategic communications endeavor, there are two dimensions that are considered, namely the channels and the content, the pipe and the water, or the how versus the what. Once we’ve chosen our target audience, a smorgasbord of communications artillery is at our disposal for our national campaign. The usual suspects of above-the-line tools, conventional media (television, print, digital, out-of-home and the like) coupled with clever below-the-line tactics and public relations exploits (social networking, CSR, corporate events and so on) will give us a nice, big, fat, George Cross-spangled, through-the-line campaign that will work. The ‘what’ or the content is then the so called creative material that we pitch to our audience, designs that should evoke the aspiration that promises a few days of all that Malta can give our tourists in return for a small portion of their hard-earned disposable income. This has actually worked time and again. Still does in fact.
Discounting for macro-economic hiccups beyond our control and notwithstanding micro-economic anomalies that are within our control but still vexingly challenging (national carrier reform to name one) the figures have been good. Tourists still want the Malta product – that is a good thing since most of our eggs are in this basket. So that, as they say, is that. Well not really. A numbers game is a difficult game for us. Quantity truly is the enemy in Malta’s case – given the limitations in scale and the added cost per customer, it’s not always the wisest business angle that which delivers returns on the basis of a voluminous quantity of customers. This of course begs the question of how we might achieve the same tourist
Malta has recognised value and should invest further into a portfolio of niche products that it has to offer to the more discerning visitor.
Money / Issue 07 - 21
Web development offers the national product a chance to be all things to all men. revenue on a smaller quantity of visits. The answer looks simple – quality. Malta has recognised value and should invest further into a portfolio of niche products that it has to offer to the more discerning visitor, for a more specialised experience that presents a wider margin to the island nation at a not much higher cost. So we’re looking into a brand objective of tapping a handful of premium or niche markets for the specialised customer. To do this, as any fulfilled brand strategist will testify, what we do need is the elusive element of uniqueness. Can we pull it off? Yes we can. The following is just a handful of sexy idiosyncrasies that are merely an indication of an underlying asset bank of attributes that can appeal to these niche customers. The first example is our national identity – Malta is the only country that refers to the Roman Catholic God as ‘Alla’, evidence of a symbiosis resulting from occupation and cultural traits distilled from an intricate historical fabric of opposing religions and cultures. The second example is that we proudly retain a mother tongue that, uniquely
in the world, holds a Semitic root but is written in a Latin alphabet. A further example is that we are landlords for the oldest manmade freestanding structures in the world. Then there is the one airport, one university and roughly 360 churches. The possibilities in capturing minute but lucrative portions of cultural, historical and religious tourists truly are endless. Which of course, I’m sure we already do, in some shape or form. Typically the downside of appealing to a portfolio of niche offerings versus a one-size fits all product of mass appeal has been cost limitations in the absence of finding a communications channel or channels that can offer in-depth content and breakthrough targeting. Well, as Spiderman once said, welcome to the web. Web development offers the national product a chance to be all things to all men as the saying goes, through specific targeting of finely tuned campaigns to an eager audience. The tools are many, from social networking, search engine optimisation, forums and e-mailers to
apps, online libraries and many more. An arsenal of web development tools will allow Malta to offer very niche experiences, with low communication costs. Consider a well-managed entry into an online forum about Baroque architecture, possibly on an architectural interest site. Malta’s product placement around such a discussion table will allow the pitch towards an already eager audience to be more subtle and surprisingly more effective than a blanket approach. Though my examples are few, the main strategic play is maintaining the sun worshipping visitor base, but allowing a portion of efforts and investment into highly targeted less quantity visitor groups – these will not only deliver a higher return, but also strengthen the national brand equity with a more sophisticated market. It’s simple really. The immense concentration of high value offerings the island maintains – historical, cultural, architectural and beyond – needs to be leveraged to a wider audience of individually focused streams, which furthermore hedges us against the risk of relying on a single type of visitor. That is of course the theory. Another matter are the challenges to implement such a bold proposal of telling everyone that this place we call home really does subsume attributes beyond its modest proportions might suggest and beyond what its most visitors might conceive.
Golfing and real estate The fourth edition of the three-day Homes of Quality Golf Tournament, held at the Royal Malta Golf Club between April 14 to 17, was won by Jan Stibbs. The tournament opened with 160 participants and included stableford competitions for the ladies’ and the men’s categories. The grand prize was a delightful trip for two to a golfing resort in Tuscany. Frank Salt, chairman, thanked the competitors and expressed his pleasure at seeing such keen participation. Grahame Salt, director, added how, “The Homes of Quality Golf Tournament has been running since 2008, celebrating lifestyle and property.”
22 - Money / Issue 07
It takes Excelsiorâ€™s bespoke hospitality to get your deal done and dusted.
e extend our Grand philosophy of luxury, comfort and service to each and every guest, especially our business guests. Because when your mission-critical deal is done here at the Excelsior, our 5-star hospitality can turn your new deal into a full-blown corporate event. Our eventing skills and state-of-the-art technology are crafted to fit both your corporate culture and your budget. We bring purpose-built, corporate and banqueting
facilities to your conference table, too, should you need it. Thereâ€™s room for 1,000 seated delegates in 4,026 square metres of space with 14 different venue formats for you to choose from. For the comfort of your delegates, the Excelsior has 430 deluxe and Executive bedrooms with picturesque views across the waters of Marsamxett Harbour. Call the Excelsior sales team now on (+356) 2125 0520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting M01, to see what kind of 5-star bespoke deal we can do for you.
A Member of
BOV JEREMIE Financing Package for SMEs including Micro-Enterprises BOV is offering tailor-made solutions at advantageous terms. Talk to us today. Your success is our goal.
2131 2020 I bov.com Issued by Bank of Valletta p.l.c. 58, Zachary Street Valletta VLT 1130 - Malta
JEREMIE refers to the Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises Initiative. Terms & Conditions apply.
Operational Programme I – Cohesion Policy 2007- 2013 Investing in Competitiveness for a Better Quality of Life “The financing provided hereunder benefits from support from an operational programme co-financed by the European Union Structural Funds pursuant to the “Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises” initiative (JEREMIE)“ European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
Investing in your future
Dr Michael Refalo is a former Minister for Tourism, Justice, Culture and the Arts. He is a Companion of the Order of Merit of Malta, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a former High Commissioner to the Court of St James’s.
Signs of the times Despite the upheaval in North Africa, Malta’s tourism industry has registered progress. Caution is the name of the tourism game, says Michael Refalo.
espite the relative calm, a few kilometres to the south Libyans are locked in a war of attrition and unspeakable violence. I am surely not the only person taken by surprise that despite Muammar Gaddafi’s apparent tight control of all things Libyan, this oil-rich, mostly undeveloped nation of formerly nomadic tribes was the next after Tunisia and Egypt to seek freedom from the shackles of a brutal, autocratic and corrupt regime. However, unlike its North African neighbours which seem to have survived the ordeal with relatively little suffering and loss of lives, irrespective of the side to which one belongs Libya has become synonymous with widespread bombing, destruction, famine, deprivation and death. The outcome remains uncertain. By the time this piece sees the light of day the sanguine hopes and aspirations of millions of Libyans and in neighbouring states of the Mediterranean littoral will, may or can be dashed for many years to come. Everything can change. Although cracks have appeared in the monolithic edifice of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year regime, he remains in tight control of Tripoli and of its western strongholds. Meanwhile his armies and mercenaries bomb and pummel
incessantly at rebel militia positions in Benghazi and the east of the country. As success in military terms vacillates from one side to the other, the most accurate assessment of the situation is that it has reached a stalemate. Following the establishment by the United Nations of a no-fly zone, NATO air strikes and internecine battles on land, France, Qatar and Italy have formally recognised the insurgents’ council as the legitimate government of Libya. The Benghazibased council of Libyan dissidents has convinced the civilised world of its democratic credentials. Various interpretations of UN resolution 1973, the establishment of a contact group, possible deployment of Libya’s frozen assets, arming the anti-Gaddafi militias and international authorisation of the Benghazi based leadership to use the country’s oil revenues for defence and sustenance are on the agenda. The uprising has produced many thousands of losers in Libya and beyond and no winners. The impact on the country’s Mediterranean neighbours and in the wider world has taken a variety of forms, including mainly an inevitable surge in the price of oil, a much larger flood of illegal immigrants, instability and uncertainty in the region.
Tourism is a shy bird which will fly away at the slightest provocation or hint of trouble. A war on Malta’s doorstep will necessarily cause negative repercussions. Our prosperity depends to a large extent on the fortunes of the leisure and service industries. Tourism is a shy bird which will fly away at the slightest provocation or hint of trouble. The watchwords of the travel industry and holidaymakers’ aspirations are peace of mind, relaxation, tranquillity and new experiences. Escalating oil prices and internecine conflict 120 kilometres away compound the industry’s problems and the challenges assailing Air Malta. Until the dust settles and the situation becomes clearer, the chances are that group travel organisers not fully conversant with the unfolding drama in Libya will be understandably perturbed and unadvisedly rush to cancel or put on hold bookings mainly for groups and conferences. For obvious reasons TEFL
Money / Issue 07 - 25
Increasingly positive perceptions of Malta and the enforcement of the no-fly zone have seemingly calmed visitors’ apprehensions. will suffer a similar fate. That said, fear and predictions of a potential snowball effect have not gained momentum and currently seem to be melting away. Meanwhile heartening statistics for visitor arrivals (excluding evacuees and illegal immigrants) and per capita spend during the months of February and March have signalled two record-breaking months. Double-digit progress is just what Malta needs. In the meantime cruise-line companies are relocating programmes from Egypt and Tunisia to Malta. Due to the region’s current uncertainty the norm will be late bookings for the rest of the year. As things stand I do not see cause for alarm and trust hoteliers will not succumb to pressure and thoughtless, hasty rack rate reductions. As fortunes fluctuate in neighbouring Libya and high profile defections from Colonel Gaddafi’s camp continue, a flurry of diplomatic activity to bring about a ceasefire and for Colonel Gaddafi to step down, the leaders of the uprising lament NATO’s apparent inability to offer civilians adequate protection. However,
what increasingly looks like being on the cards is that this civil war will not be over in weeks. A recent vox pop survey published in one of Malta’s English dailies indicates that visitors to Malta seem more concerned about the state of our roads than with the war in Libya. Luckily and paradoxically, knowledge of geography has never been the forte of the general travelling public. Everywhere seems millimetres away on an atlas. However, barring a couple of intemperate travel warnings withdrawn immediately, the absence of negative travel advice has deterred the more faint-hearted from staying at home and putting off holidays. Significantly, our main source markets, despite a slight drop from Germany, are doing pretty well. Increasingly positive perceptions of Malta and the enforcement of the no-fly zone have seemingly calmed visitors’ apprehensions. Maltese investment in Libya, ranging from the leisure industry, retailing, pharmaceuticals and
construction is massive. Events will undeniably be taking a toll. Their resurgence, unlike that of the more resilient tourism industry, will certainly take appreciably longer. Whichever side ends up losing, Malta must be among the winners. Comparisons are odious. Projecting a safe and secure environment is a PR agent’s nightmare. Alternative ways of generating publicity are the order of the day. Posters, TV and newspaper ads are not the answer. The recipe lies in favourable independent endorsement in print and the rest of the media as well as in positive word of mouth. Stakeholders should not take a shortterm view. Knee-jerk reactions and faux sabre-rattling locally and overseas are definitely not the agenda. While undue optimism is out of place, Malta and its people should go quietly and calmly about their business without undue fuss and panic. The watchword is caution. As the ship of state moves ahead steadily we must follow, adapt and adjust to the signs of the times.
Fine lines The new Peugeot 508 is all about quality, from the responsive drive and intelligent interior design to the build quality, attention to detail and pioneering technology which delivers, amongst other things, remarkably low emissions. Above all, it’s the 508’s distinctive looks that make it stand out, with a new design direction that all future Peugeot models will follow.
26 - Money / Issue 07
Think GAIA For Life and the Earth
Intelligent solutions to maximize comfort, efficiency and sustainability. Sanyo’s Advanced Technology ensures lower running costs, energy savings and decreased noise levels for any type of building. • • • • • •
Inverter Systems Multi-Split Systems VRF Systems Water Chillers & Heat Pumps Fan Coil Units Virus Washers
Gasan Centre, Mrie˙el Bypass, Mrie˙el BKR 3000, Malta 2778 8500
Shooting at tourism This year’s spring hunting season has reignited a lot of bad publicity about Malta and harms the country’s tourism industry, says Victor Paul Borg.
s it only a farce or is it insidiously harmful to Malta’s national and economic wellbeing? I am talking about the long-running hunting saga, which this year saw a new chapter full of renewed vigour. This new chapter started with the extraordinary move of opening a spring hunting season this year after three years of closure – now Malta is the only country in the EU that allows the shooting down of birds on migration. I suppose that the government calculated that a spring hunting season can win the votes – or at least avoid losing them – of a few hundred hardcore hunters for whom shooting birds is an obsessive behaviour, like an addiction. It’s a calculation that ignored the rest us, if only because few of us non-hunters will base our vote on the hunting issue alone.
28 - Money / Issue 07
The hunt was conducted under ostensible ‘limitations’ and ‘restrictions’ – two key points that govern derogations to the EU’s Birds Directive, which Malta has already been found to have breached for a number of years after joining the EU. Statistically, this meant that 5,600 hunters were permitted to shoot 11,500 game birds over a period of 18 days – that works out at two birds for every hunter. Neat numbers – but reality is more slippery and messy. So, where do I start? Did each hunter this spring go out shooting for many days but only killed two birds? Did each hunter shoot two birds and then willingly stored away the gun until the next season? And did the hunters desist from shooting down protected species, which
is what they normally do whenever a bird – any bird – comes within range? It doesn’t appear that hunters refrained, at least judging from my own field observations. I live in Nadur, Gozo, on top of Ramla Valley, and in the last three days of April, when bird migration was massive, I was woken up by shotgun shots well before the alarm clock – the shots began ringing in the valley at 5:00 am. On each of the three mornings I stood on top of the cliff, looking down into the valley, and on each morning I counted hundreds of shots. I couldn’t see the hunters and birds well in the overcast misty-grey mornings. I could only see shadowy fleeting things – I saw some hunters fleetingly, some birds fleetingly, and the police also fleetingly, trundling in
Victor Paul Borg is a writer and adventure travel specialist. His writing and photography are published in various magazines, and he does analytical features about the tourism trade for the magazine of the Pacific Asia Travel Association. In the past few years he has also been designing ecotourism tours, including experiences with fishermen and farmers in Gozo. www.gozobluadventures.com
an ageing Land Rover. But I did not need to see clearly, for the proof was in the incessant staccato of shots: if we assume that one bird was downed for every five shots, then that means that hundreds of birds were gunned down in Ramla Valley alone in the last three days of April. That works out at several birds for every hunter – and I am being conservative and careful with numbers here. Then there is enforcement, another key point in the ‘strict supervision’ regime of a derogation. In this regard, the government deployed 43 police officers who were branded as ‘hunting marshals’, as well as the usual complement from the police’s Administrative Law Enforcement unit. This means there might have been a total number of around 55 police officers deployed on hunting-monitoring activities at any one time. If we assume that police have to be in teams of at least two, and that each team had its own vehicle, then we are talking about 22 teams deployed throughout the islands. That works out at less than one police unit for every valley, so why would a hunter camouflaged in a grove of trees
So, you see, this year’s slaughter of birds has become a tragicomedy. Part of the theatrics is the travesty of the enforcement of bird-protection laws. For example, why do the police allow taxidermists to operate in Malta with relative openness? These taxidermists are pits of illegally-hunted birds that are gunned down to be mounted as trophies in macabre private collections. It only takes someone to ask around to pinpoint them – like you would ask around for the nearest bakery – so I wonder why the police have not busted the majority of the taxidermists. In some cases the police have sat on actionable intelligence for years without doing nothing. My suspicion is that the police maintain visibility in the countryside in order to create the superficial appearance of doing something but then stop short of being militant and pro-active, such as busting and eliminating the taxidermists. That is the charade of enforcement. The other part of the story is that while this year’s spring hunting has descended into a farce played out in media drama – with each side firing salvoes of press
Malta is the only country in the EU that allows the shooting down of birds on migration. feel compelled to refrain from shooting any bird that flies within range when the nearest police unit might be two or three kilometres away? Any hunter in that position can shoot to his heart’s content, and then hide the dead birds in underbrush or grass, or bury them under stones, or even in the soil. Indeed, the police seemed a forlorn and comical trio in Ramla Valley – I only saw them fleetingly, in the ageing Land Rover, and I suppose the hunters also only saw them fleetingly.
statements in an attempt to gain the perceptive upper hand – we are losing sight of the larger picture, which is the harm that the hunting casts on Malta’s image and ecotourism. The two go hand in hand. And, although ecotourism is still a niche in Malta, it is a growing niche and it has to become a larger share of the tourist industry in the future to ensure a wholesome tourism product. That’s because the overall green credentials of a tourist-destination is a crucial part of branding for tourism nowadays.
Money / Issue 07 - 29
Yet the effect of spring hunting on countryside tourism is direct and indirect. By direct I mean the annoyance of tourists who encounter hunters in the countryside. Spring is the peak season for hikers, and only a few months ago the Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism, Dr Mario De Marco, hailed a new company called Merill Ecotours, which organises hikes and agritourism. There are other companies and freelance operators who work in the same area of eco-tourism, especially in Gozo. But what happens if hikers out in the countryside come across a hunter? Seeing a man with a shotgun is enough to create an atmosphere of anxiety. Hearing gunshots is worse, as it serves to shatter the tranquility that is part of the allure of hiking. And seeing someone shooting down a bird is a sight that most people find despicable and disturbing. No wonder that bird shooting continues to be one of the top issues that tourists in Malta complain about to the Malta Tourism Authority. And the company the Mario De Marco hailed has had to put the following warning on its website: “Itinerary may change in adverse weather conditions or hunting season.”
A clean shave Gillette Fusion Cool White is a wet shaving system that combines hightech breakthrough blade technologies on the front and back of a single shaving cartridge. It has five blades spaced closer together, forming a shaving surface. This configuration distributes the shaving force across the blades, resulting in reduced pressure and therefore a more comfortable shave. Fusion Power technology can get in and out of tight corners, helping men achieve style perfection with extraordinary comfort. For local trade enquiries call VJ Salomone (Marketing) on 8007 2387.
30 - Money / Issue 07
The indirect effect of hunting on green tourism is more insidious. It generates bad publicity, and this year’s spring hunting season has reignited a lot of bad publicity about Malta. Let’s face it: shooting birds when they are on their way to nest is the antithesis of sustainability, and blasting all manners of birds out of the sky with utter disregard for other people’s sensitivities is a stain on our nation. But we have a government that is pandering to hunters’ sense of exceptionality. The government even boasted to the hunters that Malta’s allowance of a spring hunt on migratory birds is “unique” in the EU. Spring hunting on migratory species is indeed unique, but it simply serves to give Malta a credibility gap. How can Malta build up its tourism brand as a country of green wholesomeness when the news coming out of the islands depict a country that is reckless with European natural heritage – a country that allows the shooting down of migrating birds in spring? I don’t think many of us consider such uniqueness as something to boast about.
Industry leading energy savings The new SMMSi offers innovations in energy savings with highly efficient DC twin rotary compressors and advanced vector-controlled inverters boasting COP of 6.41* at 50% partial load.
The future just arrived 3 compressors &
Industry leading layout flexibility With flexible layout variations beyond imagination, this extremely versatile system can accommodate up to an impressive 235 meters in length and maximum height of 40 meters between indoor units. Max.
3 inverters Super Modular Multi System New smart VRF control
The intelligent VRF ensures precise control over cooling and a room by room basis, delivering consistent temperature to even the furthest room from the unit.
Notes: * 8HP outdoor unit. European model. Calculated based on JRA4048:2006 specification.
ITS is all about the people Investing in students’ people skills and teaching them how to think outside the box will help Malta keep a competitive edge in the tourism industry. Institute of Tourism Studies Chairperson Claire Zammit Xuereb speaks to Veronica Stivala.
We make sure that what students are learning is relevant to today’s industry and tomorrow’s challenges.
t is a given that the tourism industry within the international scene is competitive in a cut-throat way. To make matters worse, the effects of the economic crisis and the various climactic and political turmoil are still being felt. Moreover, people have become more cautious with their money and are always on the lookout for last-minute deals – this makes the industry highly unpredictable. Tourist establishments are suffering the consequences of this scenario. It also goes without saying that since Malta’s main source of income is tourism, maintaining a competitive edge over other holiday destinations is a must.
Indeed, it came as quite a blow to learn that our islands are currently more expensive for British tourists than Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Greece and Dubai. How is Malta preparing its future tourism employee for such a volatile business?
In the light of this, ITS keeps its courses and teaching up to date, in terms of new concepts and trends. As an educational institution, its priority is naturally to cover basics, however the institute does adapt its curriculum to include contemporary fashions.
For ITS Chairperson Claire Zammit Xuereb, it is essential that Malta constantly works at strengthening its local element in order for it to outrival other countries. When this is achieved, the price becomes less of an issue, even though demand is very elastic.
One of the current market trends in tourism is the creation and promotion of a European brand – this means presenting European countries as being highquality destinations. How is the institute working to help Malta live up to this brand?
“It will be compared less and less with other countries by price, but will be compared by product,” she says.
Focusing on the fact that the European brand is temporary, being a trend where what is in vogue now will probably change in a few years time,
Ms Zammit Xuereb explains that what is important is that students are taught how to adapt to the ever-changing fads of the business. “If we manage to teach students a skill that will not only allow them to grasp all we teach them, but that will also give them room to improve on all that they have learnt, they will be ready to face our everchanging industry.” An important step in preparing ITS students for the industry is to expose them as much as possible to the real world. This includes inviting established guest speakers as well as taking the students on site visits. In her role as chairperson, Ms Zammit Xuereb makes it a point to
Celebrating exceptional brands The second Superbrands programme was launched at Hilton Malta, Portomaso. Superbrands builds on the success of the first edition that was launched in 2009. A local market research company, Misco, will be carrying out a survey on brand awareness in Malta and that, along with a shortlist of 1,200 brands from an initial list of 2,500 that were considered by Superbrands will produce a final list. Each brand will be scored and will be whittled down to 350 brands, which are being invited to join the second programme for Malta and Gozo of Superbrands.
Money / Issue 07 - 33
Education encourage establishments in the industry to recruit students as well as urge hotel management to enrol their employees at ITS, as a lifelong learning process. This, she says, is vital both for the learning of new trends and methods, as well as for the strengthening of specific skills that are necessary for coping with change. “We make sure that what students are learning is relevant to today’s industry and tomorrow’s challenges,” says Ms Zammit Xuereb. The institute also ensures that students are taught to think outside the box. With an ever-changing industry, it is vital they can think for themselves. Needless to say, such skills are not solely needed in the tourism industry, nor exclusively at work. Also highly important is the people aspect. “It is useless having all the qualifications and experience but not having the right approach and attitude,” says Ms Zammit Xuereb. She goes on to explain how, because of this, ITS is going through a relatively big change in its culture. Although ITS has always been relatively strong in the academic aspect of its curriculum, it is now working full force on strengthening students’ soft skills.
What’s on the new menu Cafe Juliani, the welcoming bistro at the heart of Hotel Juliani overlooking Spinola bay in St. Julians, has launched an innovative, tasty and healthy new menu. Ideal for business and pleasure, Cafe Juliani has a modern calming ambience, designed exclusively by renowned designer Pippa Toledo. Patrons are free to choose from three different dining areas – a comfortable lobby area, a classic dining area and a sofa area with free high speed Wi-Fi. Cafe Juliani is open from 11.00 am to 11.00 pm.
34 - Money / Issue 07
“The need to train students to have that special personality to overcome the challenges they will be faced with is great. The academic aspect is certainly very important, but how relevant is it when you are put in a difficult situation and need to bring out the best in people and solve matters there and then?
“Mastering the ability to deal with people, on both ends of our product, is crucial. At all levels, today’s industry requires a person who is agile, has a positive attitude, is ready to keep learning, has a strong personality, is consistent and resilient.” Naturally, the industry needs to be furnished with a good balance of both leaders and followers. It is pertinent to focus on soft skills, and one of the institute’s primary roles is to provide students with the ability to adapt, think alternatively and lead. Another current trend is that an innovative and creative approach to tourism must be taken. In keeping with this, ITS launched the Final Research and Innovation Project in 2009. As can be understood from the title, this involved students conducting scientific research which could lead to improving people’s lives, to work on design processes, thinking and tools and to work on business innovation that contributes to prosperity and sustainability. The project saw students looking at the industry from innovative points of view such as medical tourism, also termed medical travel or health tourism. This concept was initially coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidlygrowing practice of travelling across international borders to obtain health care. Looking into the movement towards Integrated Relational Tourism, defined as a pattern emerging in alternative tourism, has the aim of offering a destination full of experiences based on the relationship between the tourist and the locals. The project was repeated in 2010 and students’ research and work are being displayed this month.
New SWING range & Chairs
Labour Avenue Naxxar NXR 9022 Malta
TD Lux T : 21382601 F : 21382598 E : email@example.com
Online savings Access your money whenever, wherever
www.easisave.com • Interest payable annually • Daily withdrawals
2.5% on your
Freephone: 8007 3388 • Tel: 2132 2102 Powered by
FIMBank p.l.c. is a licensed credit institution in Malta, regulated by the MFSA and listed on the Malta Stock Exchange. This euro based product falls within the Depositor Compensation Scheme established under the Depositor Compensation Scheme Regulations, 2003. Withdrawals are on demand and effected via SEPA credit transfers. Rates are correct at time of going to press. Terms and conditions are applicable and available upon request.
The availability of good quality accommodation at affordable prices is an integral part of the touristic product offering.
Have a nice stay Upgrading accommodation establishments helps the local hospitality industry improve Malta’s touristic product, says Chris Galea, Malta Enterprise.
hile Malta’s rich history, cultural heritage, natural beauty, almost year-round sunshine, and an attractive calendar of events provide attractions for everyone’s tastes, the upgrading and embellishment of accommodation establishments is vital if the hospitality industry is to keep flourishing. With tourists becoming increasingly selective, the availability of good quality accommodation at affordable prices is an integral part of the touristic product offering and consequently one of the factors that determine the choice of one location over another. This also applies to local clients, who are likewise demanding ever more value for their money, whether they are spending a weekend break at some accommodation establishment or simply dining out. Conscious of the need to innovate to ensure that market expectations are met, Malta Enterprise administers a number of schemes aimed at assisting hotels, accommodation establishments and restaurants to upgrade their facilities and thereby improve the service they offer. Through one of these schemes, enterprises can benefit from an interest loan subsidy ranging between one per cent and three per cent, depending on established criteria such as the added value that the projects would provide to the tourism industry and the economy. The subsidy, which may be granted on interest payable to the bank during the first five years of the loan period, will be granted to projects involving refurbishment, product upgrade or expansion projects undertaken between June 1, 2010 and December 31, 2013. Hotels can benefit from the subsidy on loans of a maximum value of €7 million, while the capping for restaurants stands at €500,000. Assistance is also provided to enterprises involved in this industry to implement green initiatives and either reduce their energy consumption or else increase the use of alternative sources to generate energy. In this manner, besides enjoying benefits for their own business, these enterprises would also be giving their contribution towards the protection of the environment. Smaller companies, including micro-enterprises or selfemployed, can also avail themselves of schemes that are specifically targeted towards them, such as the MicroInvest and MicroCredit schemes. Under MicroInvest, micro enterprises employing less than 10 persons can benefit from a tax credit of up to 40 per cent of the investment they make to innovate or improve their business. The tax credit, which is capped at €25,000, increases to 60 per cent for
those businesses which are located in Gozo. The assistance provided under this scheme is wide ranging and covers investments made on premises including furbishing and upgrading, equipment, wage costs for employment generated, as well as investments made to ensure compliance with regulations, including health and safety, environment directives and physical access, amongst others. On the other hand, the MicroCredits scheme provides SMEs with guaranteed loans of up to €500,000 which will also have a discounted interest rate. The scheme is enabled through the JEREMIE framework and is administered by Bank of Valletta. Other assistance provided by Malta Enterprise includes business advisory services, with the aim of assisting enterprises to identify their strengths and weaknesses and helping them improve their day to day operations and thereby become more efficient. Through these services, businesses are helped to identify projects which they could implement and which would enable them to upgrade their offerings. Furthermore, while there is currently no open call for funding under the European Regional Development Fund, in previous years several stakeholders in the hospitality industry
have benefited from this assistance through a number of schemes administered by Malta Enterprise. Indeed, 11 hotels benefited from the first call of the ERDF Energy scheme alone, with other companies benefiting from other schemes including the E-Business and International Competitiveness, amongst others. With the evaluation of the third call being finalised, more applicants are expected to benefit from this funding opportunity, while any remaining budget will determine whether any further calls are issued in the coming months. These schemes complement those available through the Malta Tourism Authority, which are likewise aimed at helping businesses involved in the hospitality industry improve their offerings. Surveys carried out by MTA show that the rate of satisfaction for tourists staying at five-star hotels was higher than that for those staying at hotels with lower ratings, highlighting the need to provide as good a service as possible and embellishing the available facilities. This would ensure client satisfaction and increase the chances of repeat visits whilst enhancing the positive reputation the industry enjoys. For more information on the schemes administered by Malta Enterprise, visit www.maltaenterprise.com
Money / Issue 07 - 37
“Having a location for business so close to the airport is a further motivation to travel to Malta more often for work related purposes.”
Business destination SkyParks Business Centre sets new standards in corporate commercial space, says General Manager Alan Borg.
What fuelled the decision to turn a vacant footprint into state-of-the-art corporate offices? The intention to invest in a project within this footprint was always in Malta International Airport’s plans. Since locally we’ve seen an increasing trend in the demand not just for office space, but good quality office space, we decided to address this unprecedentedly untapped niche market by turning this development into a business centre. With the backing of MIA’s already established brand, it was a natural move for the company to invest in corporate real estate. Through this, we are giving reputable companies the opportunity to improve their workplace environment and enhance their brand image. How does SkyParks redefine office space? At SkyParks we want to go beyond mere office space and devote our full attention to the daily intricate needs of businesses. Comfort and convenience are high on our agenda. We are ensuring the highest level of comfort when it comes to ambience inside the office. While we intend to maximise the use of natural sunlight, we will ensure that the glare is reduced to a minimum so that it does not develop into a potential nuisance. Temperature
levels inside the office will be auto-controlled through sensors, ensuring that optimum temperature is set at all times of the day. Our objective is one: to raise the bar locally and set new standards in corporate commercial space. Above all, we feel responsible in contributing to the image of our individual tenants, giving each the prestige they deserve. How does SkyParks combine office with leisure and retail space? What we are selling is not just space for workstations and boardrooms, but a concept which has for long been sought after in the local market by domestic and foreign entities. We aim to add value to the work environment of our tenants and address the overall wellbeing of employees. With this in mind, SkyParks will be hosting the services of a childcare centre, a fitness and wellness centre, and a medical centre on its ground level. A variety of food and beverage outlets will be situated on level 0 and level 1, making use of the external terrace. Banking services will also be provided on premises. Since SkyParks is
Money / Issue 07 - 39
situated within MIA grounds, tenants will be just metres away from other already existing amenities such as bank, pharmacy, perfumery, gift shops, communications and network providers, petrol station and car wash. What other facilities will SkyParks-based organisations avail of? A key feature that will be very convenient for our tenants is the ample availability of car park spaces on our underground floors, and also in the car park already used for airport visitors. As for rental facilities, we are committed to provide maintenance and cleaning, as well as the highest level of security, with access control and alarm monitoring installed throughout the whole building. What eco-credentials does SkyParks have? We were the first in Malta to apply for the BRE Environmental Assessment Method certification. This is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings in the UK. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe a building’s environmental performance. SkyParks Business Centre is investing in the highest level of energy efficient systems for air conditioning, air ventilation, heat recovery units and vertical transportation, and plans to maximise energy conservation while limiting wastages in lighting systems, water circulations and sanitary ware. In doing this SkyParks intends to ensure an improved internal environment with high indoor quality, while reducing water and electricity costs for its tenants. SkyParks has the obvious advantage of being located next to Malta’s main gateway. Yet how does SkyParks also add value to Malta International Airport? SkyParks certainly enhances MIA’s brand. Operating under MIA management, SkyParks Business Centre is an all-new project for the company. This shows how diversified MIA can be in its endeavours and its willingness to explore new business fronts for investment. Moreover, it confirms MIA as a
responsible and top-class provider of services, which, whether for aviation, retail or property, it increasingly seeks to deliver the utmost to its customers. Investing in the latest technology and innovative design for the building also proves MIA’s commitment to good quality products. Is it envisaged that SkyParks increases Malta’s business tourism and opportunities? Having a location for business so close to the airport is a further motivation to travel to Malta more often for work related purposes. This is especially true for foreign companies which have an office based here. SkyParks will also make things easier for foreign business clients visiting local companies, and also for employees of corporate residents at the business centre to go on assignments abroad. Besides this, our corporate tenants will find it very convenient to welcome foreign visitors to their offices, making it possible for them to organise one-day meetings while making use of the facilities on site. When will SkyParks welcome its first corporate residents? SkyParks will open its doors to the first tenants towards end of summer this year, by which date, Vodafone Malta Ltd will be making its move to their new headquarters at the business centre. How is SkyParks being promoted for overseas corporations which, to date, have no Malta-based offices? To attract foreign businesses, our business centre is being promoted abroad through various initiatives, including participation in conferences and property expos. Next in line is Expo Italia Real Estate which will be held in June. We are also in talks with some consultancy firms based in London, who would act as intermediaries between us and any of their financial services clients seeking to relocate or base themselves in Malta. We are mainly focusing our efforts on such a strategy, as we believe that through these front liners, we can target our markets better and be more effective in highlighting the advantages of operating from Malta.
A resounding success A few weeks after the HSBC Advance Malta Property Expo 2011 closed its doors at the MFCC, Ta’ Qali, the momentum has been sustained with many exhibitors confirming they are still following up many of the enquiries received with on-site property viewings around Malta and Gozo. This third edition of the HSBC Advance Malta Property Expo 2011 was opened by Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Land Jason Azzopardi, along with Keith Pillow, managing director of Duplex REB, who organised the Expo, and Andrew Ripley, head of Personal Finance at HSBC Bank Malta plc, the main sponsors. Among the distinguished visitors were Opposition leader Joseph Muscat and Mrs Kate Gonzi, wife of the Prime Minister.
40 - Money / Issue 07
R E M M U S / G IN R P S E IV T C A THE CAMEL ! D E R U T P A C . 11 0 2 N IO T C E L L CO <
COLOUR: MULTI SIZES: 7 - 1 0 PRICE: ¤ 95.00
290.11.02 COLOUR: NUT SIZES: 7 - 10 PRICE: ¤110.00
COLOUR: BLUE SIZES: 7 - 10 PRICE: ¤ 95.00
290.11.03 COLOUR: BLACK SIZES: 7 - 10 PRICE: ¤ 110.00
287.11.01 COLOUR: RUST / BRANDY SIZES: 7 - 10 PRICE: ¤ 90.00
267.11.08 COLOUR: BROWN SIZES: 7 - 10 PRICE: ¤95.00
If you’re looking for something special this season, the Camel Active Spring Summer Collection brings the best in hard wearing, top quality shoes made from the finest of leathers like wrinkled buffalo and crazy horse. Capture a pair for yourself and start the season in style.
CAMEL ACTIVE IS EXCLUSIVELY AVAILABLE FROM THE SCHOLL FOOTHEALTH CENTRES IN SLIEMA AND VALLETTA While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this advert prices may be subject to change and not all sizes and colour maybe available
Money tries to keep up with Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok.
The man behind the wheel Name: Karun Chandhok Born: Madras, India, in 1984 Status: Single Favourite Formula 1 circuits: Monaco, Spa-Francorchamps and Silverstone Drives for: Lotus
What first attracted you to racing and do you still remember your first race? I’ve wanted to be a racing driver ever since I can remember. When I was a kid, all I was interested in were race cars. I used to watch Formula 1 races when I was five years old, even though they were not broadcast on TV at the time. We used to get videos of the races from friends in the UK and I loved watching them over and over again. And while my friends were reading comics, I was reading Autosport.
I have fond memories of my first race. It was in the JK Tyre Indian National Racing Championship in 2000. I started in pole position, dropped to second place at the start but then passed the leader on the final lap to take the win on my debut. You have excelled in every form of racing that you have participated in, and still hold various records. To what do you owe this success – determination, talent or hard work? Racing has been my whole life since I was a kid.
I’ve been obsessed with the sport and have grown up in a motorsport environment – my grandfather raced in the 1950s and founded the Federation of Motorsports Clubs of India, while my dad has been racing since 1972. Therefore, it was a natural progression for me to get involved in the sport. I lost almost 35 kilos in my final year at school and won the Indian National Racing Championship in the same year and from then on there was turning back. In recent years, more Indian drivers have been breaking into the world of
racing. What do you think has brought about this exposure, and what does the subcontinent have to offer to racing and Formula 1? A lot depends on the Indian Grand Prix. If we can get people in the grandstands and get the country, especially the media, excited about the race and about Formula 1, it will make a big difference. Everything in motorsport stems from Formula 1 so if we can make the Indian Grand Prix a success then we can build the lower formulas up on the back of that. I think that, for the sport to flourish, it’s important that there’s an Indian driver and that’s what I’m here to do. It’s like any sport – look at Mahesh and Leander in tennis or Vishy Anand in chess. The media response has been fantastic as well and I’ve had kind words of support from some great Indians like cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev and actor Shah Rukh Khan, as well as captains of industry in the country.
Money / Issue 07 - 43
Formula 1 is a global sport with a wide reach, which is beneficial to many local companies in India and Asia. For Indian organisations which continue to enlarge their global footprint, Formula 1 is a fantastic platform. When racing, do you still get a rush of adrenaline or have you got used to it by now? The beauty of the sport is that it always gives us this rush of adrenaline that makes us always want more of it. I think it’s one of the reasons that even the likes of Michael Schumacher came back to the sport even after winning seven World Championships. We love being in the car and it’s hard to live without it even for those few months in the off season. How eager are you to start a Formula 1 race for Team Lotus? I wanted something for the medium and long term and not just for 2011. What I do in 2012 and 2013
44 - Money / Issue 07
is important. If that meant taking a back seat, as reserve driver this year and perhaps do a couple of races, then so be it. Team Principal Tony Fernandes is a great guy and I like his attitude about building an Asian team at Lotus and he has been quite vocal about it, and talked in the past about building a team with Asian drivers and staff. I’m just looking forward to providing the team with as much input as possible on the Fridays and hopefully will find myself in the driver’s seat at the Indian Grand Prix later in the year. What is the potential of Team Lotus and what are the main objectives for this season? Technical Chief Mike Gascoyne has been putting things together and Tony Fernandes has managed to give us a really good rear end in terms of the engine and gearbox that will solve our reliability and performance issues as well. It’s just about getting the aero package to
now work with it and we should be up there. It might be difficult at the beginning, but perhaps we can then chase the likes of Force India, Toro Rosso and maybe Sauber. Obviously we are ahead of Virgin and HRT already so that’s the picture we have at the moment. What goes through your head when racing at such high speeds? I think over time, your mind and body adapt to the speeds after being exposed to it week in and week out. At speeds of over 300km/hr and facing G Forces of up to 5Gs, I really don’t think we can afford to think of anything except the corner that’s up next or the car that you’re looking to get past. These days there’s a lot more to it with drivers having to make changes in the car itself based on team orders but it’s what we live for and are trained to do for a living. Fitness is extremely important in our sport as the driver’s body must be highly tuned and
developed to withstand the stresses of driving the car for hours at a time. Fatigue can affect judgment and reflexes, so being fit is of utmost importance in Formula 1. Do you ever worry about your safety? For me, this is the greatest sport on earth. There is absolutely nothing else that combines competition, technology, finance, marketing, geography and glamour like Formula 1. It is a real dog eat dog world however – very much a case of every man for himself and you really have to be on your toes. Yes it’s dangerous and I had a really close shave when Jarno Trulli’s Lotus climbed over me at Monaco last year and I was six inches away from having a 600kg car land on my head. But we love the sport and can’t afford to think of the dangers once we step into that car. We leave the worrying to the rest of our family members – I’ve probably given my mum and dad a few grey hairs over the years.
If your car breaks down •W hen your car breaks down, follow RMF instructions to avoid turning a simple breakdown into an accident. •S top your vehicle on the far left of the road, close to the pavement, and switch on your hazard lights •Y ou and your passengers must evacuate the car from the left doors and straight on the pavement •O pen the back boot to make your vehicle more visible and if you have a florescent vest put it on immediately • Get your passengers to leave the main road via the closest exit How taxing is the constant travelling from one F1 circuit to another?
•P lace your warning triangle 75 metres behind your vehicle and on the same lane your car broke down
Oddly enough I don’t see how any of us would have time to give in to the perceived Formula 1 lifestyle. While the sport is surrounded by glamour, most drivers, like myself, don’t get the time to party during a race weekend and when the race is done I’m just tired and go to bed. I’m not a big party person or a nightclub person but like most people my age, I enjoy films and TV and just chilling out at home with my family and friends to unwind.
•P hone RMF on 2124 2222 and wait for assistance on the pavement, at least 10 metres behind your vehicle
Personally, who do you think is the greatest F1 driver of all time?
• I f the nature of the breakdown is a simple puncture do not stop the vehicle inside the tunnel but proceed slowly out of the tunnel to a safe place. If this is impossible, stop the car as close to the pavement as possible
I have always admired Alain Prost. I had a chance to meet him for a chat last year after I joined the Formula 1 grid and enjoyed every minute. I just love his ability to look slow but actually be extremely quick on track. What are your predictions for the 2011 F1 season?
• If your vehicle stopped in a precarious position wave your hand up and down to draw the attention of oncoming motorists
If your cat breaks down in a tunnel: •S witch on the hazard lights and ensure that your sidelights are on
•A s soon as possible you and your passengers must evacuate the car from the left doors and straight on the pavement •O pen the back boot to make your car more visible and if you have a florescent vest put it on immediately • Get your passengers to exit the tunnel via the closest exit
The new rule changes have made the sport even more appealing, and with McLaren on par with Red Bull already it seems like it’s going to be an epic season again. Ferrari are never going to sit back and relax so I’m sure it’s just a matter of weeks before they’re back up there with the leaders too. It’s a year where there are at least five teams than can realistically push for wins so I think we’re in for a seriously good year of racing.
46 - Money / Issue 07
•P lace your warning triangle 75 metres behind your vehicle and on the same lane your car broke down •U se the pavement to exit the tunnel in the direction of oncoming traffic while waving your hand up and down to draw the attention of oncoming motorists. Continue signaling until assistance arrives •F irst phone the police on 112 and then RMF on 2124 2222 to inform them that you have broken down in a tunnel and you need their prompt assistance to control the dangerous situation
Where comes as standard
www. crcmalta .com
office furniture partitions s e a t i n g s t o r a g e s h e l v i n g 90cm
lockers & cabinets
FREE QUOTATIONS • FREE DELIVERY • FREE INSTALLATION • ALL ITEMS IN STOCK • 5 YEAR GUARANTEE *Prices exclude VAT
Creative Refurbishing Centre (Malta) Limited Tilio’s Buildings, St. Paul street, Naxxar NXR 4016 - Malta Tel: (+356) 21 419 400 – 21 419 600 Mob: (+356) 9947 4400 - 7941 9400
Fax: (+356) 21 419 500 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Keith Cole and Alexander Bezzina
Accommodating architecture Hotel architecture needs an inbuilt flexibility that adapts to market conditions, Keith Cole from Bezzina & Cole tells Kris Micallef. Photos by Kris Micallef
What makes good architecture? Despite the breadth of the question, I will venture a telegraphic reply. Through processes of observation, listening, curiosity, sensitivity, experimentation, knowledge, craft, respect, dedication, perseverance and an endless list of virtues, one can create good architecture. Good architecture resulting out of this process appears to emerge naturally and effortlessly out of mankindâ€™s needs of shelter and culture. Good architecture is one which is born of and permits a seamless interaction between man, the architectural object, space and time.
48 - Money / Issue 07
What interests you most in architecture? That side of architecture which is closest to man touches me deeply, and therefore I feel humbled by the vernacular. I am equally enthralled by the direct experience of the senses. In experiencing a space I look for sense perceptions such as light, sound, smell and touch. So when I am designing, I try to imagine and introduce these sense experiences for our clients to enjoy. I find the greatest inspiration in solutions of genius â€“ thankfully genius is the hallmark of many architects. What do you find rewarding about your profession?
A profession is a knowledgebased service delivered with ethical discernment. The most rewarding experience for an architect, and for that matter also for the society they serve, is reached when an architect provides such a level of service. On another note this profession is blessed with being both a craft and an art. Alone and together, these are generously rewarding. Has the profession changed, and what do you miss of the old system? I miss the sense of professional integrity which is evident in some of the more mature practitioners. In my view, ethical formation is not held sufficiently high in our formal
The Westin Dragonara Resort
education system. This trend has to be reversed and education, particularly at tertiary level, holds the key to this reversal. It is far too late to start to form values such as integrity after graduation, often at the age of 24. Continuing professional development is designed to recharge oneâ€™s knowledge base, but does not and cannot form the individual.
successfully created a new architectural order. In stating this, in no way do I intend to disparage those who came before or after.
Where do you feel most comfortable working?
What tourism-related projects were you involved in?
I can lose myself in creative work anywhere, but my preference is usually overlooking a tranquil garden.
Our firm was fortunate to be commissioned a number of tourism projects in the 1990s during the boom years for tourism accommodation. This was a period when Maltese hoteliers decided to upgrade the rather dated 1960s stock of hotels. Our firm was responsible for the Westin Dragonara Hotel, Intercontinental Hotel, Victoria Hotel and Golden Tulip Vivaldi Hotel, amongst others.
Which architects do you admire most? I admire both the modernists and functionalists from the first half of the 20th century, particularly because they took on the establishment and
Anything exciting on the drawing board? Yes, but no matter how small or large the job may be, many are indeed exciting.
What are your main determinants in the design process of tourist accommodation? Succinctly, equipped with the knowledge and skills which apply to the profession, an architect needs to satisfy both guest and employer. Primary design determinants include a current knowledge of the market segments and a sensitivity to the physical context of the hotel. However, given that markets are creatures of change, we build in sufficient flexibility to allow change, should the need arise. What is the key to achieve successful tourist accommodation? What is successful for the guest may not be successful for the investor. In my view the key to success may well be an inbuilt flexibility to change the architectural product to take account of prevailing market conditions.
Money / Issue 07 - 49
Golden Tulip Hotel
It is cost-effective, and indeed also ethical, to consider measures of energy conservation and sustainability in hotel design. Are energy conservation and sustainability important factors in design especially in large tourist accommodation? Typically, considerable energy is consumed in order to achieve satisfactory comfort levels in climates such as ours, where both heating and cooling are required. Therefore it is cost-effective, and indeed also ethical, to consider measures of energy conservation and sustainability in hotel design. Do hotels always work in isolation or when they are integrated into an urban area?
The Victoria Hotel
For the man who always aims high After years of research on the physiology of menâ€™s skin, Shiseido cutting-edge technology delivers the ultimate in luxury, Skin Empowering Cream. The pride of Shiseido Men, Skin Empowering Cream infuses skin with vitality that projects a sharp intellect. The skin becomes resistant to the signs of fatigue and decline. Exclusively distributed by C+M Marketing Ltd.
50 - Money / Issue 07
In the first instance, variety and choice spread market risks. There is scope in the market for resorts, conference and incentive travel, business hotels, boutique hotels and so on, each with its own benefits and impacts. However there is also room for synergies, more so when hotels are built in close proximity. Personally, I would like to see more quality boutique hotels and possibly small family run units which thrive on good service. Do you think Malta has the potential to push the concept of agro-tourism forward? It all boils down to our quality of service. If we can train our farmers to receive guests and return a good dose of our proverbial hospitality, we could and should make it. Moreover, the spill over into other cottage industries would be beneficial both culturally and economically.
VEHICLE & PERSONAL
EUROPEAN ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE
INCENTIVES & DISCOUNTS
FOUR SERVICES UNDER ONE COVER RMF offers roadside assistance which includes Vehicle Membership, Personal Membership, a unique product from RMF, European Roadside Assistance, and now Insurance cover. In addition RMF offers discounts and benefits to its members with the RMF/ARC Incentive Scheme.
JOIN RMF TODAY Purchase an RMF Personal Membership and get a FREE 3 in 1 Warning Triangle, Visibility Vest and First Aid Kit worth €20 (essential for all motorists).
Purchase an RMF Vehicle Membership and get a FREE First Aid Kit worth €12
These items are also available for sale. Call or visit our website for details.
Guardamangia Hill, Pieta, PTA 1313, Malta Tel: (+356) 2122 5536, (+356) 2124 2222 Email: email@example.com www.rmfmalta.com RMF Limited has been enrolled by Atlas Insurance PCC Ltd. as a tied insurance intermediary and is regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority Enrolment No. C8148
DISC PRE OUNT O SEN N T OF T ATION H ADV IS ERT
Photography: Kris Micallef - www.krismicallef.com Creative Director: Luke Engerer Hair: Michelle Galea, Roots Hair Salon Model: Robert - InFashion Malta
Piazza Italia sunglasses - €9.99 Ralph Lauren shorts - €84.00 Tommy Hilfiger shirt - €85.00 Mexx cardigan - €55.00 Antony Morato shoes @ Junction - €79.95
French Connection sunglasses - €47.00 Antony Morato t-shirt @ Junction - €39.95 Piazza Italia jumper - €14.99 Tommy Hilfiger chinos - €110.00 Ecco shoes - €104.90 Opposite Ralph Lauren polo - €66.40 Tommy Hilfiger shorts - €95.00 Hilfiger Denim belt - €29.90 Tommy Hilfiger jumper - €100.00 Camel Active shoes @ Scholl - €90.00
Esprit t-shirt - €15.95 Tom Tailor shirt - €29.95 Hilfiger Denim belt - €29.90 Tommy Hilfiger shoes - €109.90 Scotch and Soda chinos @ Junction - €81.95 Opposite Ralph Lauren polo - €66.40 Hilfiger Denim chinos - €119.00 Ralph Lauren jumper - €125.00 Tommy Hilfiger shoes - €109.90
Mexx shirt - €32.95 Antony Morato t-shirt @ Junction - €29.95 Ralph Lauren trousers - €154.00 Tommy Hilfiger shoes - €69.90 Opposite Tommy Hilfiger sunglasses - €140.00 Ralph Lauren jacket - €145.00 Ralph Lauren shirt - €120.00 Tom Tailor t-shirt - €12.95 Scotch and Soda chinos @ Junction - €84.95 Scholl shoes - €58.00
Holiday chic Style can go on holiday but it never takes a break. Photography: Tonio Lombardi / Stylist: Kira Drury
01. Carpisa navy weekend bag, €45.90 02. Pikolinos @ Ecco shoes, €104.90 03. Ralph Lauren underwear, €24.90 04.Piazza Italia shades, €9.99 05. Tom Tailor navy trousers, €43.95 06. French Connection jumper, €71.00 07. Mexx checked shirt, €42.95 08. Piazza Italia polo shirt, €6.99 09. Ralph Lauren shorts, €92.00 10. Tommy Hilfiger t-shirt, €35.00 11. Piazza Italia cap, €5.99 12. Ralph Lauren polo shirt, €79.00 13. Tommy Hilfiger belt, €40.00 14. Esprit blue v-neck top, €15.95 15. Mexx black bag, €32.95
10 11 13 15 14
60 - Money / Issue 07
01. Orsay hat, €14.95 02. Carpisa suitcase, €79.90 03. Peacocks dress, €64.50 04. Gabor @ Scholl wedges, €95.00 05. Piazza Italia t-shirt, €12.99 06. French Connection sandals, €29.90 07. Mexx stripe top, €65.00 08. Accessorize necklace, €12.50 09. Orsay shorts, €24.95 10. Peacocks lipgloss, €2.50 11. Esprit cardigan, €59.95 12. Ralph Lauren jeans, €200.00
Money / Issue 07 - 61
In Business Class
Mona Farrugia edits and writes for food, travel and review website www.planetmona.com.
It’s another day in paradise for Mona Farrugia.
f artist and writer Kenneth Zammit Tabona had to buy a tea and coconut plantation house and convert it into four sumptuous suites, he would write his ‘Hotel Notes’, which form part of the introductory package, exactly as George Cooper, the owner of Kahanda Kanda, did. The notes are peppered with exclamation marks, oh-no’s (at the Buddhist monks’ loud mumbling echoing around the hills) and much wagging of fingers (‘Yes you can use the A/C but do it thoughtfully’). Nestled in the hills of Angulugaha, a few miles out of Galle, Kenneth is missing but Kahanda Kanda’s George is very much present and regularly welcomes his guests warmly. “He hugs a lot,” my driver says cryptically and by way of a warning a few metres before we arrive, more than half a smile on his face. Well,
George didn’t hug me, which, you know, makes me feel a little perplexed. Have I done something wrong? Not followed pre-arrival, hugattracting guest protocol? He certainly has not done anything wrong with this stupendous boutique hotel. The Tamarind Suite, which I stay in, is a perfect holiday home, in that if I had to spend all my weekends in it, I’d be a very happy gal indeed. It is so much more than a hotel room that for the entire duration of my stay, I can hardly be bothered to go to the infinity pool which overlooks the other side of the plantation. There is a double basin, a double shower (‘The water supply has its erratic little quirks and at times the authorities unexpectedly cut the electrical power, blaming the water supply when they do,’ say the Hotel Notes), a
dressing room and a separate toilet. So far, so regular. Nonetheless the copious dotting of white porcelain and dark woods with bunches of orange-red frangipani, gardenia, birds of paradise and jasmine flowers over everything from the basket of face flannels to the Egyptian-cotton-lined, mosquito-netted four-poster bed, makes it all so crisp and deliciously stylish. The dining table blossoms with flowers in the evening and there is no getting away from their wondrous beauty. It could be New York overlooking Central Park – instead it’s a hideaway corner of Sri Lanka. The absolute winner is the outside terrace, overlooking the tea plantations. The lounger is made from local bleached wood and decked in light blue and oatmeal
striped local linen from Seline. Yet what is great about it is the trick of all well-constructed sofas, harking back to George’s real metier – interior design. Lie back, read, gaze on the green tea plantations until they become a green blur, listen to the peacocks, and crosshair your eyes on the kingfishers. It is like being dropped in the middle of wonderful nature without getting bruised. The birdsong alone is worth the five-hour trip it took me to get here from Yala National Park. Late afternoon, George’s words come to life as the monks across the plantation start to chant. It is fascinating and all pervasive. For 10 minutes I sit transfixed on the terrace, not daring to put those headphones on lest a vision in orange will descend and disapprove.
Money / Issue 07 - 63
Lie back, read, gaze on the green tea plantations until they become a green blur, listen to the peacocks, and crosshair your eyes on the kingfishers.
In Business Class
THE FABRIC OF SOCIETY
Then, as quickly as it started the chanting stops and the drums kick in for a few seconds. Then the chanting starts again and goes on for more than an hour. You see why George could be Kenneth? Take the chanting out and slide in a few festas, the church bells or simply the horn-happy gas deliveryman of Malta. Once it stops I pray (to a Christian god, rather than a Buddhist deity, in order not to add to the noise) that the silence will last, order supper (European, Thai or Sri Lankan), and go back to listening to birdsong. The colonialists really knew what they were doing when they settled down in Sri Lanka â€“ it is heaven, with quirks. Kenneth would love it.
64 - Money / Issue 07
Shopping in Sri Lanka is not easy. In fact, as the West conspires to take your money, Sri Lanka seems to tell you to keep it. Moreover, the drivers from reputable companies such as Sri Lanka in Style are actively advised not to take the customers shopping. This is because most (and Iâ€™m being kind here) of them are on a hefty commission. In an antique jewellery shop in Kandy, the wizened old lady behind the counter gives me a price for some beautiful vintage sapphires, asks me if the driver or guide is around, then when I reply in the negative, she knocks 50 per cent off the price. Make sure you visit Seline, on the road to or from Kandy. It was the shopping highlight of my trip and if you love interiors and crafts you will adore it. Kahanda Kanda sources its fabrics from here. At the back, women weave the thickest and most beautiful cotton I have ever seen into long metres of brilliantly coloured upholstery and clothing fabric. Seline sells internationally but its workers are protected and well treated and it forms part of the Fair Trade movement. I specifically took two large pieces of luggage to pack the metres I bought, to give you an idea of quantity, and they still would not budge a cent. Bargain at your peril: it confuses them highly. Go to KK and Elephant House in Galle for knick-knacks and generally beautiful things, including interiors, t-shirts, bags, Sri Lankan cottons and silks.
PEACE AT LAST Sri Lankans do not really have a sense of humour. Do not try to share a joke with your driver or the serving staff as you will both end up wondering if you offended each other. Sri Lankans are smart, creative and proud. They are all, without fail, happy that the 30-year civil war is over (it stopped in March 2009 and throughout, not a single tourist or foreigner was killed) and they, especially the majority of Singhalese, seem very happy with their president. In Colombo, scammers are everywhere. Their ruses include telling you that they met you at your hotel bar or they work at your hotel. All their proposals involve taxi rides but if you tell them you have a driver, they vanish quickly. The great thing is that all this is very transparent. At our hotel, even the reception staff were in on it, so it seems to be a kind of status quo. Use reputable agencies like Sri Lanka in Style and you should be fine.
Amit Raab is Head of Digital at Ogilvy Malta and a Digital Marketing Consultant.
Please like me Amit Raab suggests three ways to improve your business fan base on Facebook.
o you’ve got a business page on Facebook. That, of course, doesn’t mean anything because, while simply having a presence on Facebook might be good promotion for your brand, a Facebook page means nothing without fans. The average Facebook user is connected to around 80 pages or groups. In today’s world the Facebook user is spoilt for choice on which fan pages to like and which to ignore. A visit from a potential client on your Facebook page is valuable but not as valuable as their ‘like’. When a Facebook user ‘likes’ your business page, their opinion of you will be published on all of their friends’ walls, utilising the networking power of the medium. More importantly though, when a user adds your business page, it will give you a direct channel to contact them with updates or information, creating a focused communication to an interested audience. Once your business presence is established on Facebook, here are three ways you can boost your fan count without spending a single cent.
Give fans something others can’t have
You can bring some much-needed attention to your page by being an active member of the Facebook community surrounding your industry. Find industry relevant pages and users on Facebook, entities which would be accessed by potential clients and industry influencers such as competitors or industry bloggers. Now interfere, interact, react and provoke.
This is the most obvious way to ensure potential clients do not just browse your page but join it – premium content gives them a reason to join. Here are three simple ways to achieve this. First, you can use the update function to send exclusive information, news and even voucher codes to your fans. Another way is to provide promotions and competitions that only fans can participate in, such as voucher raffles or quizzes. Finally, the most rich and creative way to do this is to use Facebook applications which use the ‘fangate’ function. This function transforms an application once users have ‘liked’ the page. This means that you can have an entire media rich site or special application waiting for users to explore but only if they ‘like’ your page.
Take for example a competitor’s page, which has just been targeted with a support question from a current client. A simple answer to the question from yourself would shift attention to your business page and promote your presence on this medium to all of the competitor’s clients. Allowing your social media representative to work alternative work hours might also be beneficial. Statistics from a BuddyMedia research study show fans engaged 20 per cent more with a brand that posted content outside of normal office hours.
Statistics from a BuddyMedia research study show fans engaged 20 per cent more with a brand that posted content outside of normal office hours.
66 - Money / Issue 07
Promote and be proud Make sure you promote your page on all marketing materials, e-mails and communications. All it takes is a simple Facebook icon since your target audience is interested in learning more. Facebook’s penetration in Malta is now at 50 per cent, meaning 200,000 users. Don’t worry if your page is in its early stages and has a low user count – if the content is there, the interested parties will follow. It’s not called a networking tool for nothing. These techniques, along with a healthy interest in your own page and a rich amount of content and output to your fans will make for a very ‘like’-able business page, creating a direct and visible channel to your audience.
Boost Summer Sales with a D2D Distribution. Our service is cost-effective and delivers results. Mailbox Building 113, Constitution Street, Mosta MST 9056, MALTA. Tel: (+356) 2142 2561 / 2742 2561 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Distribution Company
dOES yOur buSinESS look innovative?
INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS 113, Constitution Street, Mosta MST 9056, MALTA | Tel: (+356) 2142 3572 Mob: 9997 0217 | Email: email@example.com
esprit.com sliema 路 48, tower road 路 the point shopping mall level -1 valletta 路 26, merchants street 路 tel: +356 20601075 email: firstname.lastname@example.org