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Contents 8 The story as it unfolds Malta Tourism Authority chairman Louis Farrugia speaks to Vanessa Macdonald on exploiting opportunities and avoiding threats for Malta’s tourism.

12 Between a rock

and a bed place

With the seemingly unending economic crisis and the recent tumultuous explosion of the Icelandic volcano, the tourist industry has suffered a heavy blow in the last couple of years. However, six leading hoteliers tell Veronica Stivala the future is not bleak but the country must invest in tourism.

20 Singing from the same hymn sheet It is unity of purpose which gives Malta a better success at promoting itself, says Former Tourism Minister and recently Malta’s High Commissioner to London Michael Refalo.

23 The currency conundrum

The Sterling might be gaining ground on the Euro, but for large purchases, it is still advisable to lock in your rates in advance, says Mark Hollingsworth.

24 Come together There is strength in joined-up diversity. For the M. Demajo Group, the key factors to successful joint ventures are cultural will, transparency, communication and integrity.

27 Go East The Middle East market provides ample opportunities, yet to be successful, businesses need to engage in cross-cultural understanding, says Margrith Lütschg-Emmenegger, President of the FIMBank Group.

30 Teaching us a lesson The English as a Foreign Language industry gives a solid contribution to the Maltese economy, says Isabelle Pace Warrington.

35 Red goes green The new Vodafone Head Offices boast eco credentials and a new way of doing business. Money sees the plans.

38 Ready for take-off The Aircraft Registry Act and accession to the Cape Town Treaty are intended to make Malta a more attractive jurisdiction for the registration of aircraft, says Nicolai Vella Falzon.

41 Credit terms and conditions Granting credit always involves a level of risk. For John Paris from Creditinfo Malta, prevention is better than cure.

45 Have a safe trip Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, travel insurance is a must to avoid any disappointment, says Vittorio Laferla.

46 Rider to the sea Photographer David Pisani explores his childhood memories in a series of coastline fine art photographs.

50 Watch this space Once he raced against the clock, but nowadays David Coulthard goes by the watch.

53 Operation speed Orthopaedic surgeon Anthony Bernard has been won over by two Japanese performance cars. Malcolm J. Naudi finds how the surgeon’s hands treat the Subaru Impreza STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI.

68 The lake night show Mona Farrugia sinks and then swims in the luxurious Villa Feltrinelli at Lake Garda.

72 The flight is right Even if you’re a frequent business flyer, you can still avoid jet lag, says Claude Camilleri.

74 A traveller’s home is where the art is

Fabrizio Mifsud Soler on how to attract the cultural traveller to our shores.


Welcome Being an island is not just a geographical conclusion but also a question of perspective. On one hand, the constant visibility of our horizon; the fact that from any lookout point in Malta, we can view the sea and, as a consequence, the island’s circumference, can be interpreted as a repetitive reminder of our limitations. Yet on the other hand, we can view our horizon as a gateway to endless opportunities. Beyond the point where the sea and the sky meet, there are other countries, other continents, other worlds. As an island, we can be both a closed, insular environment cut off from the rest of the world, or else a gateway. And to be a gateway, we need to travel. In this second issue of Money, which carries the theme of ‘Travel’, we explore both incoming and outgoing travel and what these add to the island’s economy. In the main interview, Malta Tourism Authority chairman Louis Farrugia speaks to Vanessa Macdonald on the opportunities and threats that Malta’s tourism industry is facing. We are not just a sun and sea postcard destination, explains Mr Farrugia, but a richer package which we must promote. Post-recession and following the European air travel crisis fuelled by the recent ash cloud, the hotel industry is slowly recovering. Yet as six leading hoteliers tell Veronica Stivala, the tourism industry is facing constant challenges that can only be overcome if hotels invest in alternative energy and engage in further collaboration. Former Tourism Minister and recently Malta’s High Commissioner to London Michael Refalo, proposes a similar unity of purpose which is more effective than any individual efforts to promote the island. Beyond Europe, the Middle East is rich with opportunities. Margrith Lütschg-Emmenegger, President of the FIMBank Group, explores the region and advises how through crosscultural understanding, companies can add new value and take advantage of the region’s willingness to do business. In this issue, we also do our bit and add value and style to your read. We speak to former Formula One racing driver David Coulthard, stay at the gorgeous and historic Villa Feltrinelli overlooking Lake Garda, and give you a fashion shoot that, literally, pulls some heavy punches.

Editor Anthony P. Bernard Consulting Editor Stanley Borg Design Jon Calleja | www.unbrandme.com Cover Photo Courtesy of TW Steel Printing Progress Press Distribution Mailbox Direct Marketing Group Hand delivered to all businesses in Malta and selected Vodafone corporate clients For any information regarding editorial, promotion or advertising contact Tel: 00 356 2134 2155 Email: money@becommunications.com

Money is published by BE Communications Ltd, 37, Amery Street, Sliema SLM 1702 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written permission. Opinions expressed in money are not necessary those of the editor or publisher. All reasonable care is taken to ensure truth and accuracy, butthe 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, selfaddressed envelope.

Read on and enjoy. The editor is not responsible for material submitted for consideration.


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The story as it unfolds Malta Tourism Authority chairman Louis Farrugia speaks to Vanessa Macdonald on exploiting opportunities and avoiding threats for Malta’s tourism.

T

We offer something beyond other Mediterranean countries because we are not just a climate destination.

8 - Money / Issue 02

here is always a much more interesting story if you scrape beneath the surface of statistics. It is a story the chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority, Louis Farrugia, finds particularly relevant because understanding what is happening puts Malta in a better place to exploit opportunities and avoid threats. Take the British market, for example. For decades, as tourism in Malta blossomed, most of the British visitors knew Malta from their time in the Services. Lately, our popularity had turned into a disadvantage as the younger generations associated the islands with their grandfathers’ holidays. This is why the MTA went head on for this market in recent years through the Isle of MTV concerts, social networking sites and iPhone and

iPad applications to get its message across - the under 24s category went up by 24.1 per cent in the first four months of the year. But other things were also happening simultaneously. Low cost airlines opened up markets that had till then stubbornly resisted the lure of our islands: Spain and Italy. And as cruise traffic grew exponentially, people who only came to Malta because it was on their itinerary were entranced and came back. “These markets are very important because both Spain and Italy have Mediterranean weather and beaches, so why are they coming to Malta? These people are finding our product attractive. We offer something beyond other Mediterranean countries because


we are not just a climate destination, and unlike many other Mediterranean resorts we do not shut down completely in summer, because this is a city state and not just a resort,” Mr Farrugia says. “We have to look at the product we have and ask whether the Spanish and the Italians prefer our history and culture and are we equipped to service them? Can they get a tour in their language, live or recorded? At St John’s or the Hypogeum?” With new routes being opened to Spain and considerable increases from Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona and Seville, he believes Malta’s reputation is spreading, noting that you can now overhear Spanish spoken in all the tourist areas. The MTA reacts by organising marketing campaigns wherever a new route is opening up. In Italy, for example, it has run specific campaigns and promotions on a popular breakfast show. “The power of the websites of these low cost airlines is indisputable but you have to support with a lot of PR and advertising,” he adds. Between January and April, there was a 118 per cent increase over the same period of the previous year from Spain. “If we carry on at this rate, we could be talking about 100,000 passenger movements for the year,” he says. Last year, the global recession added yet another ingredient to the mix tourism went down 8.4 per cent. It started to level off towards the end of the year and in December there was a slight increase. Mr Farrugia is well aware that things could have been much worse. “If you think about it, last year’s performance - compared to the rest of the market - was quite commendable, especially compared to Cyprus, which is unfortunately seeing cumulative decreases this year,” he says, noting that the fact that Cyprus is an extra hour’s flying time from Central Europe has so far put it out of the reach of low cost airlines.

The optimism may have seemed premature at the beginning of the year but the results just keep getting better. The May figures released by Malta International Airport were 19 per cent up on 2009, and were even better than the record year of 2008. Still, arrivals only tell half the story as there has been a corresponding drop in the length of stay, which has gone down from 8.9 days in 2007 to 8.5 days in 2009. Mr Farrugia expects it to drop even further this year, but only slightly, as more and more people are coming for shorter breaks in the four to seven night range. This is partly due to the accessibility offered by low cost airlines but the topic causes Mr Farrugia’s brow to furrow. He is appalled at suggestions that low cost airlines may make Air Malta redundant. “Air Malta is obviously fundamental to our tourism product - there is no question about it. We do not have the luxury of saying that we are in favour of low cost airlines and that Air Malta should disappear. Air Malta carries 55 per cent of all passengers and serves 76 destinations, as well as offering charters - which are decreasing but are still important for tour operators. So the debate should not be one or the other. We need both if we want to keep the numbers,” he says, as passionately as this mild-mannered man ever allows himself to get. “We want Air Malta to get its business plan together to survive within the EU regulations. Anyone in the tourist industry - and MTA obviously who has the interests of the country at heart knows Air Malta must be there. This is not a case of some private sector company stepping in to do its job.”

Last year’s performance compared to the rest of the market - was quite commendable. This comment is actually fundamental to the discussion on routes and airlines, as some planes fly less than half full. Air Malta looks at its route structure holistically and can afford to let the full planes make up for the less popular routes. But even this outlook can be too simplistic as some routes command higher prices and can therefore sustain lower seat loads. But with low cost airlines this argument does not hold; hence the pressure on each and every route. “We are concerned when seat load factors drop below certain levels, and we talk to the airlines to see what is going on and whether we can help,” he says. One lucrative sector is conference and incentive travel, which took quite a hit as a result of the recession, when companies cut back on any discretionary spending. But Mr Farrugia believes things are getting better in spite of the official decline of 11.1 per cent in the first four months of the year.

Doesn’t the recent basing of a Ryanair aircraft here change anything, perhaps soothing the fears of those who thought the low cost airlines would leave as soon as the going got rough?

“I must admit that the statistics we have - which point to a decline - baffle me because I certainly feel from talking to people in the business that it is improving. I think we will have a better year than last year.”

“Not really,” he replies. “There is no question that they are loyal to the bottom line and to their shareholders and if it doesn’t pay them to be here, they won’t be here,” he says.

“We have a big conference of 5,000 due at the end of August - the largest ever - which will take place just as the summer trade peters out. It is definitely an important

Money / Issue 02 - 9


part of our business and a lot of people are gearing up for it, not just 5-star hotels but also catering companies, venues, and others. This is all part of our diversification strategy, bringing people here for diving, sports, cruises, conferences - it all adds value.” The strategy and analysis is crucial to the country’s economy. Tourism is worth nearly €1 billion a year, and as Mr Farrugia points out, a 10 per cent increase represents an additional €100 million injected into the economy. Getting those numbers - and keeping the high rate of repeat visitors, which was nearly 40 per cent in 2009 - depends on meeting expectations. He says in 2009, Malta reached the expectations of 91 per cent of inbound tourists. They liked the friendly local people, history and culture and local climate. They do complain that it is hard to shop but shopping malls are changing that. “Many of the repeat visitors are British. It will be very important to monitor newer

markets to see whether they are having a good experience and come back and to identify if there is something they do not like about our product.” “If we look at the weaknesses, two things emerge - our transport system and our roads. People are afraid to hire a car. We know that public transport reform is being promised but there is an inability to get around. There are problems with taxis. This is clearly an area of concern. Think about it. If you go to a country and you do not want to hire a car because you are not confident, how else can you get around but with public transport? It is a big hindrance, especially if you are not in a resort and you want to get around.” “The investment that we are making in our transport system, into rehabilitation and restoration of the Three Cities, all this is going to help the product. The damage we do if we do not look after our environment is also harming our tourist product. There are some horrific spots in Malta where we have overbuilt,” he says.

There is, of course, another way to improve the numbers - entice the tourists who do come here to spend more. In January-April, there was a 6.5 per cent increase in per capita expenditure (to €758) as well as the 5-6 per cent increase in numbers. “A 5-6 per cent increase in numbers means 60,000 people, spending €700-€800 each - that is €50 million. Add another 60,000 spending that amount and it is another €50 million. It is therefore important to see which markets have the higher per capita expenditure to be able to encourage that particular sector.” Does this spell the end for the 57 3-star hotels, with their 12,000 beds? “Not at all - quite the contrary if anything. There are seven extensions underway, one upgrade and four new developments.” Mr Farrugia thinks that, in any sector, dynamism is paramount. “If you offer protection to those who exist, you get sloppy service. So you need to have a challenge. For example, there is definitely room for boutique hotels in Valletta to link to culture and history. Once the entrance to Valletta is done and restoration continues, Valletta will have a renaissance. Still, there are complications as it is very hard to get permits,” he concedes. “But this is what I find to be important now. We have this movement as a result of all this hard work. Let us sit down and understand what is going on and get a national consensus. Everyone has a part to play in tourism as a visitor’s experience starts from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave. Everything counts - cleanliness and tidiness, roads, councils have a part to play. A good tourism industry helps our other industries, such as financial services. It is central to our economy.”

10 - Money / Issue 02


Between a rock and a bed place With the seemingly unending economic crisis and the recent tumultuous explosion of the Icelandic volcano, the tourist industry has suffered a heavy blow in the last couple of years. However, six leading hoteliers tell Veronica Stivala the future is not bleak but the country must invest in tourism.

T

he local tourism industry was off to a good start this year. Compared to last year, there was an increase in tourist arrivals both by air as well as those arriving on cruise liners. However, despite the positive outlook, the impending economic crisis cannot be ignored - the current situation is still a far cry from that of 2007 and 2008. And only following the peak summer season (July 1 to September 30) will its impact be known for sure. On the plus side, hoteliers are optimistic about the additional flights and routes introduced by Air Malta, Ryanair, Easyjet and other airlines - these will hopefully translate into more visitors to their hotels. The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association recently reported that Malta was making progress, albeit ‘snail pace’, in the tourism sector. Association president George Micallef said matters had been

12 - Money / Issue 02

improving since the second half of last year and this was expected to gather pace in the second quarter of this year. Also, compared to other countries, Malta’s relative economic and geographic stability makes it more attractive to tourists.

Hotels Winston Zahra Jr also says it is high time the government gets down to brass tacks and implements concepts such as the national tourism plan “if we really want our island to become a centre of excellence”.

Overall, local hoteliers agree that Malta must invest in its image in order to keep the country’s main source of income healthy.

George Fenech, Chairman and Managing Director, Tumas Group, agrees that Malta still has a long way to go in the way it markets itself.

Eden Leisure Group Managing Director Ian De Cesare says that this year, the upturn has been better than they expected though Malta must invest in improving its infrastructure in order to keep up with competition. On similar lines, Phoenicia General Manager Charles Azzopardi feels “there is still scope for additional rooms at the top end of the market as long as the Malta product continues to be upgraded in line with the expectations of this segment”. Chief Executive Officer for Island

IHI Group Managing Director Joseph Fenech stresses the importance of keeping prices at a decent level considering nearby competing holiday destinations such as Turkey and Tunisia, where prices are low. Also talking about keeping prices down, Norbert Grixti, General Manager of the Grand Hotel Excelsior, highlights the increase in the cost of energy and how Malta must seek alternative options to produce cheaper water and electricity by means of the latest technology.


Even though the tourism industry this year shows sign of improvement, George Fenech is worried that Tumas Group’s main source markets will suffer because of problems such as high unemployment. Come rain or shine, the group is continuously working to improve occupancy levels as flight capacity on the market increases. The group also continues to refurbish hotels in order to be ready with an upgraded product when the tourists flood in. “We have added a number of rooms and suites during the past two years which should be adequate,” says Mr Fenech.

George Fenech

Chairman and Managing Director, Tumas Group

Despite the individual hotels’ work, Mr Fenech complains that although there has been an improvement in the way funds are being spent, Malta still has a long way to go in the way it markets itself.

What about selling the islands online? Although Tumas Group does work with various operators, as is the trend, Mr Fenech says bookings are shifting from tour operators to individual online bookings. Needless to say, this implies more work and is one of all hotels’ challenges, because it means the hotels have far more competition. Speaking about the ash cloud disaster, Mr Fenech explains how even though the hotels suffered because of cancelled trips, it was partly compensated by those who had to prolong their stay. “However, if the volcano erupts again,” he says, “there is no doubt we will suffer, especially if this happens during the high season.”

Photo by George Scintilla

One suggestion of his is to have someone who has Malta at heart to sell the islands to foreigners.

Winston Zahra Jr

Chief Executive Officer, Island Hotels

Although arrivals increased in 2009, the year was very tough for the industry. Factors such as drop in length of stay and the hike in electricity tariffs mean the tourism industry continues to face a relatively challenging environment, says Winston Zahra.

Regarding how Island Hotels attracts clients, Mr Zahra says they “have a very healthy business mix across all market segments and make decisions based on long term strategies and how (they) feel certain trends are developing across the market”.

To attract clients, Island Hotels have a number of attractive investments lined up, the most substantial of which is the redevelopment of the Hal Ferh complex near the Radisson Blu Resort and Spa at Golden Sands planned for 2011.

It stands to reason that because the industry is very dynamic, market sources have to be continually assessed and decisions taken accordingly. One such dynamic, or volcanic, incident was the recent ash cloud.

In the long term, the hotel group is looking at redevelopment projects for the Radisson Blu resort in St Julians, the Coastline Hotel and at a significant growth of their catering business.

Bookings were beginning to recover nicely just before the ash cloud crisis hit, explains Mr Zahra. Because of the problem, bookings dried up for a few weeks and this hurt revenue streams for everyone.

Mr Zahra says it is high time the government gets down to brass tacks and implements concepts such as the national tourism plan “if we really want our island to become a centre of excellence”.

“Thankfully the situation is back to normal and bookings have picked up again. We only hope that there are no more such issues as we head into what we hope will be a busy summer.”

Money / Issue 02 - 13


Similar to this year’s general overview of the hospitality industry, Joseph Fenech says that so far, on a month on month basis, 2010 has been an improvement on 2009. To keep up with competition, the IHI Group is carrying out further investments including a larger lobby bar at the Corinthia San Ġorġ and upgrading both Henry J Beans and the public areas of the San Ġorġ Marina. The group also launched a speciality restaurant, Grill 3301, last year. “In each and every one of our properties we are continuously enhancing the product,” says Mr Fenech. Mr Fenech speaks of the challenges ahead, the main one being that Malta’s cost base in the hospitality industry is much higher than nearby, competing destinations like Tunisia and Turkey. “Although IHI tries to attract corporate and conference business in Malta, the country is overall still perceived as a tourist destination,”

he says. “Because of this, the annual increases in prices are determined by what your competitors in competing destinations are able to offer.” Understandably, if you don’t follow trends, you will become unaffordable. To compare the situation with nearby countries like Tunisia and Turkey, Malta’s cost bases are completely different. We are part of the EU and our salaries are higher than these two destinations, explains Mr Fenech. To maintain Malta as an attractive destination, prices must remain competitive - for this to happen, there has to be a concerted effort by all the stakeholders, unions and government in not imposing legislated increases unless these are supported by a corresponding increase in productivity.

Near future plans for one of the largest 5-star hotels on the island include investing further in conference facilities and in other ancillary services to increase the product listings. Mr Grixti also speaks of an exciting sister company, or two, with all companies working together.

General Manager, Grand Hotel Excelsior

Despite the recent increase in seat capacity, Mr Grixti says it is not enough for Malta to increase its accessibility. To increase seat capacity along with reasonable pricing would “give us more opportunities online to further revenue maximisation”. He also highlights the increase in the cost of energy and how Malta must seek alternative options to produce cheaper water and electricity by means of the latest technology.

14 - Money / Issue 02

Managing Director, IHI group

Also, hoteliers must coordinate between themselves in not allowing tour operators to play one hotel against the other. So one has to be united in not discounting prices.

In the light of the current improvement in the conference and incentive segment, Norbert Grixti is optimistic about the Grand Hotel Excelsior’s future for the rest of the year.

Norbert Grixti

Joseph Fenech

Due to the huge size of the Excelsior, it is understandably a constant challenge to keep the hotel full all year round. Thus, Mr Grixti says that before the hotel embarks on new and large projects, they must first work on filling the current beds. Mr Grixti points out that the hotel relies on a mix of both tour operators and online bookings. They monitor the mix, depending on the period and the particular environment circumstances. Similar to the other hoteliers’ views of the recent ash cloud disaster, the General Manager explains that even though clients were lost, the hotel gained through those passengers who were stranded in Malta Obviously, the ash cloud issue in itself is definitely a problem. It immediately reflects potential reduced demand. “I hope we will not have a recurrence of such an issue, for the sake of both tourism and the Maltese economy.”


Photo by Alan Carville

While he acknowledges the recent economic downturn, Mr De Cesare is positive, pointing out that with enough effort, Eden Leisure Group’s future is bright. “We expect the added seat capacity is really going to give us a great rebound situation from the doom and gloom of the last two years,” he says. However, both the private and public sector need to work together to improve the country’s infrastructure and enforcement in terms of standards of accommodation, cleanliness of our streets and noise pollution among others.

Ian De Cesare

Managing Director, Eden Leisure Group

“We want repeat tourists and this will only happen if they have a great experience at a reasonable cost,” he says. Mr De Cesare points out that even though the company’s entertainment business is stable, the tourism part is still a growth business and feels their potential has not quite been reached yet. However, he says the situation is healthy, and that they are “looking forward to some years of growth”. Does he think his business has the right number of beds for the amount of expected tourist arrivals? Admitting that the answer to this question can never be known, he explains how if tourism is good, they outperform, while when tourism is bad, having many more rooms to fill can be a problem.

“In August, I wish we had another 100 rooms while in January I wish we had 100 less.” Using the Group’s five-star hotel for conferences is a clever way of making up for leaner times. What is the situation regarding relying on tour operators or individual deals from websites? “We have a wide mix of rate types and different types of providers of guests. During a recession, companies don’t organise conferences, and leisure travellers are looking for cheap deals,” says Mr De Cesare. Fortunately, the group’s business is a mix of conference business, local corporate and direct (website) business, and wholesale. Despite assumptions that the recent ash cloud issue must have had a negative effect on the business, Mr De Cesare says it was a positive experience as a large number of displaced passengers moved to the InterContinental Malta hotel. “I suppose it is just one of those variables that you have to contend with in business. One year it is ash clouds, another it is bird flu and others it is recession. You need to just get on with it and have a sufficiently strong management team in place to react to the changes in the business environment.”

Charles Azzopardi

General Manager, Hotel Phoenicia Following a negative 2009, Hotel Phoenicia is looking at what could be a bright 2010. The hotel plans to continue with the final part of the refurbishment plan - this covered bedrooms, the Phoenix restaurant, the Palm Court Lounge, the Club Bar and the Ballroom and makes the most of a prestigious location set on seven and a half acres of gardens at the entrance to Malta’s capital city.

16 - Money / Issue 02

Mr Azzopardi is positive about the future as many problems that have affected the tourism industry are being tackled. These include the public transport system, the taxi service, and promenades. Because of the significant increase in costs (electricity, water, wages, waste and various licences), the Hotel Phoenicia General Manager notes that although hotels cannot absorb them,


you feel like dressing up.

Because… you deserve a night without the kids.

one thing leads to another.

“one day”, can be today. when was the last time you treated him? the food, like the view, is to die for.

they can save by means of energy saving equipment and energy management systems in which they are investing and thus still retain their competitiveness. With regards to bed stock, Mr Azzopardi notes how the number of 5-star beds has increased significantly during the past four years. Although supply currently outweighs demand, additional marketing efforts are being undertaken to attract more clients. Mr Azzopardi feels “there is still scope for additional rooms at the top end of the market as long as the Malta product continues to be upgraded in line with the expectations of this segment”.

Always a great reason to eat out. Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Golden Sands Tel: (+356) 2356 1000 restaurants@goldensands.com.mt www.goldensands.com.mt

18 - Money / Issue 02

12750_IHG_EDGE_ESSEN_ADS.indd 7

Tour operators are still an important part of Hotel Phoenicia’s business though like the rest of the world, they have experienced a significant shift towards internet and direct bookings, he explains. To keep up with competition, tour operators are selling over the internet and online travel agents like Expedia and Booking are trying to secure inventory till the very last minute and play competing hotels against each other. “The trick,” says Mr Azzopardi, “is to balance the business mix without becoming dangerously over-dependent on one segment. Nowadays, successful hotels have employed specialists in revenue management and e-commerce besides the traditional sales and marketing specialists.”

21/06/2010 15:40


Singing from the same hymn sheet It is unity of purpose which gives Malta a better success at promoting itself, says Former Tourism Minister and recently Malta’s High Commissioner to London Michael Refalo.

M

ay 23, 2010: The Times of Malta carries the news of the launch by SmartCity Malta of a 30-day marketing campaign promoting Malta and SmartCity Malta within all TECOM business parks to highlight the benefits of operating from SmartCity Malta. Great news. Why? Because it clearly gives the lie to the widely held, ill conceived notion that products cannot be ‘sold’ off the back of a country and vice versa. The more so as SmartCity Malta is a member of a private public consortium established specifically for the purpose. The company has hooked its latest marketing drive to Malta’s position as a stepping stone to EU and North African markets and to the island’s vision as an ICT centre of excellence in the Mediterranean region, which is key to anybody seeking to establish a presence and gain a share of the market in these areas. A lifetime spent singing Malta’s praises and promoting its attractions and our most valuable asset - our workforce from shop floor to top management - has given me great satisfaction as well as frustrations and surprises. That most of us seem to believe that Malta is the centre of the

20 - Money / Issue 02

world, under the continuous scrutiny of one and all, has its advantages. It instils a feeling of pride in our country, in being Maltese and in protecting Malta’s good name and reputation. That would be wonderful, if only it were true. We are not the centre of the world and come under scrutiny solely in the negative sense, such as when the EU raps our knuckles or God forbid something terrible happens in Malta or around us. By comparison our behaviour is usually a cut above the rest and chronic law breakers are literally few. Those who believe that Malta’s reputation beyond our shores ranges from good to excellent are far from the truth. Our reputation is not bad but it is totally inexistent. All through our history right down to this day and age we have survived on our wits, on other people’s money, on being nimble, and on our ability to grasp and turn opportunities to our advantage. We must therefore at all costs, at all times and everywhere shout louder than most and punch well above our weight. My greatest concern as High Commissioner to the Court of St James’s

was finding ways to make up for the British public’s mental void about Malta, what we stand for as well as what we offer investors, visitors and talented people alike. The average Brit’s perception of Malta and of the Maltese people is that we are hospitable, that Malta is a good place for a holiday and that many moons ago the islands had some connection with the United Kingdom. Despite the effort and hard work put in by Malta’s sales teams and diplomats and the success achieved in attracting some major coups in financial services, high-tech manufacturing, production of pharmaceuticals as well as in aircraft maintenance and ship registration, e-gaming and other fields, not forgetting a share of British tourists, our plus points and unique selling points are virtually unknown to UK decision makers and to the average Briton. In fact, despite our singular successes, we have for time immemorial missed out on a largely untapped, residual source of potential investment and employment opportunities. After an association of nigh a 180 years, the absence in the United Kingdom of a clear perception about Malta is mind-boggling,


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

worrying and made me understand the more daunting conditions faced by Maltese diplomats and sales forces in other European capitals, in the lucrative markets of the Middle East and the exciting prospects of the North American continent. A chance meeting at Dartmouth House London with Sir Robert Worcester led to a longer discussion with a couple of his Ipsos MORI executives and a survey of leading opinion formers, editors of national dailies, weeklies, influential magazines, publications, television and radio news-editors about their perception of Malta. The result proved my initial guess correct. I was not in the least surprised that British opinion formers are as uninformed as their readers, viewers and listeners. They do not have an opinion about our country, let alone a clear view of we stand for and can offer. I discussed the survey with friends in a top London PR company and asked their advice on the best way to go about creating a clear perception of Malta in the British mind. The discussion led to an outline proposal, a process which has meant sensitising government, the business community, state and private organisations, cobbling together a public-private partnership to fund and engage The Communication Group plc as consultants and taking the first all important step to gauge local reactions and the feasibility of the initiative. The TCG team was in Malta last January to hold in-depth interviews and an intensive workshop with PPP members. Their findings, which they presented on March 3, were enthusiastically received by the PPP. Since then TCG have submitted a plan to bring the initiative to its conclusion. The initiative does not propose the engagement of a mega PR agency for Malta but lays broad parameters for a general framework within which Malta and its private and public entities will retain the services of their PR consultants and market their particular niche in a more coordinated, mutually beneficial manner. The aim is to find the right narrative - The Malta Story - which

would suit the country best and serve the interests of organisations and companies selling different components of the country’s offer. Bringing the project to fruition would imply higher investment costs which although not prohibitive should in my view be picked up by government to complement the PPP’s initial outlay. I am lobbying government to take on the project purely because I believe it to be an excellent vehicle and that it will enable Malta to penetrate the minds of investors, visitors and talented people all over the world. I seek no recompense other than the satisfaction of having done something which I believe is right and good for Malta and the Maltese people. The maxim is simple. Irrespective of the strength and modulation of voice it follows a principle espoused by choristers the world over. Tenors, baritones, sopranos and contraltos are trained to sing the same tune in concert. For many reasons - not least an aversion to experimenting, swimming against the tide of accepted practice, concern about potential competition, a desire to protect every square millimetre of personal turf, sphere of influence, decision-making and what have you some people are disinclined and indeed wary of applying the principle to other forms of human activity. Obviously these fears and prejudices do not apply to PPP members, nor to trade unionists and revolutionaries who echo the battle cry of Dumas’ Three Musketeers ‘All for one and one for all’ and collectively embrace the slogan ‘United we stand, divided we fall’. Unity of purpose and endeavour as a rule makes a greater impact and has a better chance of success than the praiseworthy but much weaker efforts of a couple of individuals. Reaction from industry, accountants, publicists, tourism administrators and agencies has been positive all through. Momentum is gathering and I will be addressing the general meeting of the Rent-a-Car Association, another PPP member, about the project and its benefits. I am acutely aware that money

All through our history right down to this day and age we have survived on our wits, on other people’s money, on being nimble, and on our ability to grasp and turn opportunities to our advantage.

is tight in these cash-strapped times and although I have heard encouraging noises coming from official quarters, they have not been loud enough to set the ball rolling. However in my view the return to Malta and to our private and public investment arms will by far surpass the initial expense.

Money / Issue 02 - 21


Mr Mark Hollingsworth is Managing Director of Hollingsworth International Financial Services, which is authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority to provide investment services, licence IS/32457. www.hollingsworth.eu.com.

The currency conundrum

1.55 1.5 1.45 1.4 1.35

Value

The Sterling might be gaining ground on the Euro, but for large purchases, it is still advisable to lock in your rates in advance, says Mark Hollingsworth.

GBP:EUR; Last: 1.1987, Hi: 1.5257, Lo: 1.0249

1.3 1.25 1.2 1.15 1.1 1.05 1 0.95

2006

Over the last three years, we have seen the Sterling plummet against the Euro as shown in the first graph. Between mid 2005 and mid 2007, British tourists coming to Malta were comfortably receiving €1.4 to €1.5 to the pound. Since then however, the Sterling has depreciated significantly, reaching as low as only €1.02 to the Pound at the start of 2009. This means that tourists were effectively receiving in the region of 40 per cent less for their British Pound. The effect of this is obvious, with British tourists electing to either stay at home or take their two-week holiday in non-EU countries to protect their buying power. Apart from financial services, Malta is very dependent on tourism. However, regardless of the product you are selling, the strong Euro will negatively

2008

2009

2010

impact the sector. Just like the property market, travellers and buyers understandably are not willing to buy something that is 40 per cent more expensive than three years ago and especially as the recent global downturn has already negatively impacted an individual’s wealth and in turn buying power. Over the last three months, there has been a dramatic change of fortunes for the Euro, with debt fears from Greece and Spain sending shockwaves around the globe and the value of the Euro depreciating approximately 10 per cent against the Sterling (see chart below). If the trend continues, then this will be welcome news for the inward travel industry as the psychological effect of receiving €1.20 to your pound as opposed to €1.10 in March cannot be underestimated. The outlook for the Euro remains negative despite reassurances from European leaders. If the trend continues towards the €1.25 level then I believe this is fair value as the Pound should not be perceived as a strong currency, merely not as weak as the Euro.

GBP:EUR; Last: 1.1987, Hi: 1.2137, Lo: 1.1105 1.22 1.21 1.2 1.19 1.18

Value

A

s a British expatriate living in Malta for more than 10 years, the value of the Sterling against the Euro is extremely relevant to me and I have a lot of sympathy for fellow expatriates whose income is in Sterling but expenditure is in Euro.

2007

1.17 1.16 1.15 1.14 1.13 1.12 1.11 1.1 22 Mar

31 Mar

9 Apr

20 Apr

29 Apr

10 May

19 May

28 May

8 Jun

17 Jun

One aspect of currencies that is often ignored by travellers and tourists is the ability of buying foreign currency well in advance of travelling. A forward contract allows you to reserve an exchange rate over a period of, for example, one year. This allows you to protect the rate you buy at and to remove any fluctuations in the future. For large transactions such as buying property this can be significant. Property deals have fallen through in the past due to extreme currency fluctuations. A €400, 000 purchase can easily become €440, 000 by the time final contracts are signed if the currency moves against you as it did for foreigners during 2007 - 2009. It is therefore advisable to lock in your rate in advance and remove the risk.

Money / Issue 02 - 23


Come together There is strength in joined-up diversity. For the M. Demajo Group, the key factors to successful joint ventures are cultural will, transparency, communication and integrity. Photos by Christian Sant Fournier

T

he M. Demajo Group is a dynamic organisation in constant evolution. It reaps the success that stems from a century of entrepreneurship, thanks to the input of upto-date resources which help the Group exploit opportunities presented by modern day commerce. As a leading privately owned organisation involved in various industries, the Group has built a reputation for its diversity. Proud of its ever growing portfolio, the organisation also finds its position ranked among the island’s top pioneering companies. Such vision is exemplified by The Malta Experience, an audiovisual heritage attraction which, since being launched in 1980, has seen successive growth. Considered an ambassador for Malta’s heritage, the show has been visited by over four million visitors since inception. Pedigree Toyshops, a household name for quality toys and games, is another establishment within the retail sector. No less is M. Demajo (Graphic Arts) Ltd., a total solutions provider of inks, prepress and post-press consumables, paper and board. Other subsidiaries within the Group, such as M. Demajo (Wines & Spirits) Ltd., are an example of market strength. The Group operates in key sectors among which are consumables, business to business, hospitality, 24 - Money / Issue 02

manufacturing and ICT, thus combining a unique mix of experiences and competence. The Group’s mission integrates growth in a focused environment - ‘Together We Achieve Because We Care’. Among its core competence, the human resource is worthy of note, comprising a highly skilled and dedicated workforce. In line with its quest for further growth, the Group has been successful in widening its commercial interests also through joint venture initiatives. This model contributes towards local and overseas revenue expansion and networking opportunities with specialists in their own respective fields of operation. Such partnerships must be a good fit in terms of culture, attitude and behaviour - these elements are seen as sensitive and crucial for long-term success. The Group therefore seeks to share its business risk with those individuals and organisations whose mindset reflects integrity, respect and relentless focus for a quality offering. Among the most recent are Exigy and Smart Technologies, the latter created through a joint venture between four of Malta’s most respected group of companies: Demajo Holdings, Forestals Investments, Hili Company Ltd and VJ


Francois Grech, Trevor Bezzina, Adrian Porter and Brian Spiteri, shareholders of Exigy Ltd.

Salomone Group. Smart Technologies Ltd is involved in leasing computers to large organizations, providing a total maintenance service package. For Joe Aquilina, CEO of Smart Technologies Ltd., “The M. Demajo Group is a guarantee of integrity, professionalism and knowledge and these characteristics enhance the value of our partnership.”

‘“The M. Demajo Group is a guarantee of integrity, professionalism and knowledge” Joe Aquilina

“One of the key strengths of the M. Demajo Group is the ability to see the vision in a business idea.” Francois Grech

“A new joint partnership with the Group has an enviable profile from day one.” Peter Frendo

Diversification is also a core philosophy for the Group, which is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities, irrespective of industry. Francois Grech, Director of Exigy Ltd., says that: “Establishing successful business ventures is not an easy task. Apart from the industry expertise, one requires the necessary financial and operating infrastructure to ensure that the business idea can be developed adequately and yield the anticipated returns. One of the key strengths of the M. Demajo Group is the ability to see the vision in a business idea, and provide the necessary financial and operating infrastructure to drive this to fruition.” “The governance structure of the Group enables a positive business climate which stimulates both entrepreneurship and innovation. New ideas and ventures are positively considered and once a feasibility model is defined, the Group has always committed its resources to drive the business forward.” Sanexel, a recent venture operating within the pharmaceutical sector, focuses on serving the North African market, assisting medical devices and pharmaceutical companies to penetrate new markets. Peter Frendo, the company’s MD has gained ample experience throughout his career within the sector. He says that: “The Group has 100 years experience of doing business in a wide range of fields both locally and internationally, so its market knowledge, contacts and business acumen are priceless in kick-starting new ventures. A new joint partnership with the Group has an enviable profile from day one, since the M. Demajo Group is recognised as being ethical, reliable and professional.” Another venture operating within the hospitality sector is Q Bar. Launched late 2007, this popular lounge bar at The Valletta

Waterfront is today a leading name in quality entertainment. “Naturally every business venture is more likely to flourish if it joins forces with a winning team and there are no doubts that our collaboration with the M. Demajo Group on Q Bar has resulted in a winning formula,” says Managing Director John Tanti. “The existing network, focus, expertise and drive behind the Group are some of the factors which contribute to a successful joint venture operation.” A seamless transition is also a prime objective when setting up such arrangements. John Tanti goes on to say that: “Both companies at top managerial level put their minds together to overcome any potential culture barriers and to create a new company with a common goal for the mutual benefit of both parties. When entering in a joint venture agreement, both parties must recognise what their strengths are and exploit them to create a successful outcome.” Joe Aquilina, from Smart Technologies Ltd., reiterates this point: “Availability, flexibility and correctness are the strengths I discovered in all the individuals, at different levels and from various parts of the Group. This has been my experience, which has enabled a smooth integration within the Group.” Sanexel’s Peter Frendo goes on to say that: “Integrating cultures is not an easy task. However, due to the fact that the Group operates several companies with various departments in each one, its internal experience in dealing with various business models and attitudes leads to an efficient merging of ideas, concepts and operational models.” Joint ventures come with their difficulties. However, the process can be much smoother and more effective with the right characteristics of both parties - the cultural will to co-operate, transparency, communication and integrity are considered key factors. The Group is enthusiastic on the future opportunities which the next generation of trading has in store. It shall continue to build on its past successes, always maintaining an up-to-date approach in its endeavours. Joint ventures are one key element for commercial prosperity over the long term.

Money / Issue 02 - 25


It takes Excelsior’s bespoke hospitality to get your deal done and dusted.

W

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. There’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 sascha.sammut@excelsior.com.mt quoting M01, to see what kind of 5-star bespoke deal we can do for you.

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Ms Lütschg-Emmenegger has travelled around the world to participate as key speaker in international conferences and is considered an authority in the area of trade finance, particularly in factoring and forfaiting.

Awareness of cross cultural differences in business practice and culture can prepare you for the challenges you can face when doing business in the Middle East.

Go East

The Middle East market provides ample opportunities, yet to be successful, businesses need to engage in cross-cultural understanding, says Margrith Lütschg-Emmenegger, President of the FIMBank Group.

R

arely have Western businesses been under the kind of pressure and economic uncertainty that they find themselves in today. This is the age of the Global Economy and no enterprise, large or small, can insulate itself from events taking place in other markets, however distant these might seem. There are unquestionably serious challenges associated with having a worldwide interdependent economy. However, those risks and challenges come with fresh opportunities as well. New markets have opened up for trade and established markets have become more receptive to the idea of international business relationships. Firms with sufficient savvy and discipline can exploit these opportunities and build new value for their companies.

The Middle East is an example of such a market. The recently issued UAE Economic Report 2009 shows total imports valued at $193 billion for this country alone. The Emirates have successfully addressed the challenges of the global financial crisis and the UAE’s economy is set to achieve real GDP growth of 2.5 per cent in 2010, driven as it is by the adoption of industrial policies designed to stimulate sustainable development.

their needs and are increasingly being seen as desirable markets to do business in.

While doing business in the region you will recognise a large number of Fortune 500 companies. However, there are ample opportunities for both large and small businesses in the Middle East, and the region represents an interesting market for both imports and exports. These oil rich nations with relatively small populations are financially capable and willing to consume imported goods and services to meet

While it is wise to bear in mind the great diversity within this region, a common religion, language and culture make it possible to establish some general cultural traits and features for the region.

Needless to say, a firm’s decision to do business in this region should not be taken lightly. Apart from the market research which would typically be required prior to taking a definite decision, the smart firm will usually undertake a thorough analysis of the target country’s culture and business customs and then determine if the move complements strategic corporate objectives. Cross-cultural understanding is an important tool for any international businessperson, company or organisation to acquire when doing business abroad. Thus awareness of cross cultural differences in business practice and culture can prepare you for the challenges you can face when doing business in the Middle East.

Building trust is perhaps the most difficult and time-consuming part of establishing a presence in the Middle East. Business is very personal to a Middle Easterner. Consequently your prospective partner in this region has to fully trust you before doing business with you, just as you would want to have confidence in someone who has an important role in your personal life. Remember that it is the people in your market - not their natural resources, technology or infrastructure - that are the key to doing business. And finally, do keep in mind that all business is personal. Know your customer and you’ll thrive.

Money / Issue 02 - 27


Doing business in the Middle East

Nigel Harris

Joseph Rodgers

Senior Vice President, Chief Representative DIFC Branch (Dubai International Financial Centre), FIMBank plc.

Vice President, Corporate and Institutional Banking, has been based in FIMBank’s Dubai office since 2007.

I recall attending lunch at an Emirati’s house where after removing our shoes and sipping pre-lunch juices in a formal lounge, we entered the dining room to be greeted by a table of Arabic style dishes with a whole lamb as the centrepiece, which the host proceeded to rip apart with his hands and serve to each guest in turn. After the delicious lamb was eaten, the host asked his son to bring the lamb’s skull which he ceremonially and carefully broke open with his fingers and offered each of us a helping of brains - considered a fine delicacy in the Middle East. I was rather full from the enormous main course and therefore had to politely decline.

It was a cultural shock for me to work on Sundays and it took me a couple of weeks to adapt to this new working routine, which ultimately meant working six days a week. Another element which has to be imbibed within your character is the virtue of patience - this is a key element for somebody to work in this region. A large percentage of our esteemed customers commenced their business relationship with FIMBank after we actually opened our office in Dubai - a physical presence is essential to conduct business here rather than via telephone or electronic communication.

Also of interest is the holy month of Ramadan, when offices close early to allow Muslims to rest in the afternoon before breaking their fast at Iftar with their family and friends. Food and drink is only consumed before sunrise and after sunset and we are often invited by customers to Iftar buffets and join them in their breaking of the daily fast.

Only connect Mobile marketing is the new, exciting and highly effective way to connect with your customers. Vodafone can help you discover that power. Vodafone can help you plan, create, deliver and measure successful targeted SMS, MMS, SMS Inserts and Portal banners campaigns, while reaching and engaging with thousands of consumers in Malta. Vodafone has been working with over 50 leading brands to deliver effective campaigns that raise consumer interaction to new levels and deliver a fabulous return on investment. For more information, contact Vodafone on Tel: 9211 1500, 9900 9024 or send an e-mail to advertising.mt@vodafone.com.

28 - Money / Issue 02


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Teaching us a lesson The English as a Foreign Language industry gives a solid contribution to the Maltese economy, says Isabelle Pace Warrington.

T

he demand for English is global. Several countries have recognised that English is the language of communication in the business world. English Language Schools are benefitting from this demand. This is further fuelled by the development of international telecommunications and technological growth. It is international economic development which has led to an increased demand for the English language rather than vice-versa. English Language Schools are a significant contributor to the Maltese economy. In fact, it is estimated that the EFL industry contributes approximately â‚Ź80 - â‚Ź100 million annually, including flights, accommodation and tuition.

Ms Isabelle Pace Warrington is the Executive Officer at the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations Malta (FELTOM).

30 - Money / Issue 02

The industry has shown an average year on year growth of about 10 per cent. Also, over the years, the industry has developed from a summer only operation to a year round one. As is to be expected, there are significantly more students during the summer months. Moreover approximately 40 per cent of student arrivals are under 18 years. The bulk of these tend to come to Malta during the summer months when they are not at school. However, it should be noted that in recent years the industry has seen a greater number of adult students

arriving in Malta and increasingly these arrive during the winter and shoulder months. Significantly younger summer students tend to stay the shortest time with an average of 1.9 weeks. Meanwhile, young adults spend an average of 3.9 weeks on the island. The general trend is for the number of adult students to continue increasing. This will translate into longer stays and more student arrivals during the winter and shoulder months. The industry is also a major player in the tourism sector. The last official statistics for the industry published by the National Statistics Office show that EFL students account for 13 per cent of total tourism bed-nights. This shows that the EFL sector has become a significant part of Malta’s total tourism product. It should also be noted that on average, EFL students spend 18.2 bed-nights in Malta as opposed to 8.9 nights of the average tourist. Around 2,000 people are directly employed by English Language Schools. However, there are many other services which benefit from EFL students. While a number of EFL students stay in hotels, many more stay with host


EFL students spend 18.2 bed-nights in Malta as opposed to 8.9 nights of the average tourist.

families and in self-catering apartments. This means that local restaurants, shops and families are benefitting from EFL student visits. In addition, EFL students spend a significant amount of money on leisure activities which include cultural tours, diving, sailing, boat tours and other activities. As the EFL industry has become less concentrated in one area, the demand for transport has also increased significantly. This includes flights, ferry crossings, and taxi and bus services. Indeed transporting English language students has become very important for the unscheduled bus service particularly during the summer months when they do not operate transport services for Maltese school children. Malta has a number of key selling points with which to compete against other European EFL destinations such as the United Kingdom and Ireland. We are fortunate in that Malta is still relatively safe and this is particularly attractive for younger students. Older students are often impressed with Malta’s rich cultural heritage, some of which is totally unique. Of course, our temperate climate is another key selling point for Malta. While some students may look to combine their studies with a varied nightlife, the EFL industry does not regard nightlife as one of its key selling points. In fact most FELTOM member schools make every effort to keep younger students out of the Paceville area. FELTOM has taken the lead in establishing quality assurance standards in the EFL industry on the island. FELTOM’s Accreditation Scheme incorporates its Academic and Student Welfare Codes of Conduct as well as the national minimum standards outlined in Legal Notice 60/96. To ensure that the Scheme remains valid and reflects market demands, the FELTOM Accreditation Scheme is annually reviewed, improved and amended.

Schools are rigorously inspected by our independent team of inspectors once every three years. Furthermore during this three-year accreditation period, schools are expected to conduct their own internal audits to ensure that they maintain their accreditation standards. Where deemed necessary the FELTOM Accreditation Council may carry out spot checks. Should a school wish to use additional premises, these must also meet accreditation standards and be submitted for inspection. Out of the 38 licensed language schools in Malta and Gozo, 15 are accredited by FELTOM. While this may not seem significant, it should noted that FELTOM schools account for around 75 per cent of all EFL student arrivals. Most of the larger more established schools are FELTOM members. FELTOM undertakes a lot of efforts in marketing and promoting Malta. FELTOM regularly advertises in Language Travel Magazine, which is the foremost international publication for the industry. In addition, from time to time we contribute to various other international publications such as El Gazette. More pro-actively, in 2009 FELTOM organised an international EFL industry workshop which attracted over 50 agents from around 28 countries. There were three times as many applications for the event as there were places and unfortunately a number of agents were unable to attend. Following the success of last year’s event, FELTOM will again be holding the EFL industry workshop this September. Visiting agents will have the opportunity of meeting representatives from many of Malta’s language schools as well as visiting some of them. Participants will also be able to experience Malta’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty during a tour of the island. FELTOM also continues to work with the Malta Tourism Authority to promote Malta as a quality language learning destination and to provide leadership for the industry.

Money / Issue 02 - 31


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Money / Issue 02 - 33


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Red goes green The new Vodafone Head Offices boast eco credentials and a new way of doing business. Money sees the plans.

V

odafone Malta, part of the world’s leading mobile telecommunications Group offering a wide range of voice and data communications, is investing in new Head Offices at the Malta International Airport. Work is already underway and the offices will be completed in two years’ time. When the plans were unveiled, Inaki Berroeta, Vodafone Malta Chief Executive Officer, said that, “Vodafone Malta is executing an ambitious growth strategy. We’ve decided to move our offices from Msida to a larger area at the MIA to improve the facilities of our work environment, be more in line with our brand and culture and the principles of productivity, collaboration and flexibility. The modern offices will consist of an open plan layout, having appropriate leisure facilities, making it easier for people from abroad visiting us for a day and for those employees going on foreign assignments.” The new Vodafone Malta offices will occupy 2 5,208m , including two floors of office space and ample car park spaces. The mechanical and electrical services will conform to international regulations with special reference to Malta Standards Authority regulations, European norms and EU regulations. The works will be completed with good engineering practice, designed for energy efficiency, low running costs,

reliability, safety, quality of workmanship and material. The design of the new Vodafone Malta offices has been drawn up by DeMicoli & Associates Architects and the Vodafone Group Property Team. The brief calls for offices that are designed to drive the business forward. The simple, fluid design can be easily adapted to new structures, market trends and customer needs, and will provide an inspiring, energetic working environment that creates a community and supports knowledge sharing, innovation and creativity. The layout will include well-designed workstations in an openplan office that will assure a comfortable, satisfying working environment for all employees. Due consideration has also been given to office maintenance and the durability of fittings and furnishings. Here, mobility, flexibility and fluidness will be key. The new offices also take advantage of the airport location. The fact that the building is situated within close proximity of the Malta International Airport guarantees excellent transport links, restaurants and retail and leisure activity. The eco credentials of the new offices are significant. The efficient design will make the best use of space, keep ongoing costs low, make efficient use of energy and safeguard the environment.

The building design complies with the European and British Standards Institution documents and local standards and mandatory orders as issued by Malta Standards Authority, Enemalta, Wireless and Telegraphy, Health and Safety Regulations Legal Notice 281 of 2004, good trade practices, other applicable regulations and Technical Guidance Series issued by the Local Services Division - Building Regulations Offices. Apart from eco credentials, cutting edge technology has been incorporated into the design. Hot desks will be provided to all employees with local area network functions and the use of the nearest printer from any desk. Employees will have neighbourhoods but no specific personal desk. The majority will not have a desk phone or IP phone - employees will walk their talk and be a living example of how the mobile can replace the fixed phone any place any time. The meeting rooms will be designed to cater for meetings of various sizes and will be equipped with conferencing facilities. The new Vodafone Head Offices will achieve a balance between being practical and interactive for employees and attractive for guests and customers. The offices will introduce a new way of working together, demonstrating the very best of mobile working, showcasing Vodafone’s total communications propositions and passing on the benefits to customers. Mobility is also about flexibility - rethinking the ways Vodafone employees work both as leaders and as teams, to be their best and encourage trust. When Vodafone move offices, it will be to a new space that is dynamic, attractive, fun and a platform for doing business, the Vodafone way.

Money / Issue 02 - 35


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Equal pay for equal work The Industrial Tribunal awards compensation for wage differential. On June 3, 2010, the Industrial Tribunal, presided over by Leslie Cuschieri, awarded €18,000 in damages to Neil John Pavia, for discriminatory treatment by Mediterranean Aviation Company which paid his counterparts more than him. The case was filed in 2008, as Mr Pavia felt that he was not being paid the same amount as others who were doing work of an equal value, discriminating against Maltese workers. One man with a similar role was earning twice as much, although the company said that different aircraft

required different training and experience and hence the wage differential. He had worked for the company as a First Officer between February 2007 and October 2008, although originally his contract was for a fixed 2-year period. The tribunal noted that many of the first officers listed as employees did not appear on the ETC’s list, while three are only on the ETC’s list. Mr Pavia complained that he worked 20 days on, with 10 days off while others had a 28/28 day system. He also said that an Indonesian pilot was paid less than he was while a Dutch pilot earned more than his Maltese counterparts.

to training and experience, the facts showed that this was not the case. Based on the differential between Mr Pavia and his closest counterpart in terms of training and experience, he should have been paid €900 more a month, which over 20 months amounted to €18,000. The Industrial Tribunal ordered that the amount be paid within 30 days. This was a case on the principle of equal pay for equal work under Article 27 of Chapter 452. The case is unusual because it involved an element of discrimination against Maltese, whereas generally things are the other way round.

After Mr Pavia and others complained, the pay structures were revised to make them more equitable. However, he still resigned for various reasons. The Industrial Tribunal noted in its ruling that the company was evasive and in spite of its arguments that the wage was linked

Palumbo takes over shiprepair

Corporate village launched Malta Enterprise has launched an expression of interest for the construction, business development and management of Corporate Village Malta. This is a unique urban regeneration project on the former Dowty site in Mriehel, represents an investment of almost €200 million. With Malta envisaged to take over the European Union Presidency in 2017, Corporate Village Malta will be the main hub of activity for the events taking place during the six-month tenure. It will serve as government’s single point of contact for business, with the main regulatory and business support agencies and departments to be moved there, taking up at least 30 per cent of the 130,000 sq.m. spread over a footprint of 35,000 sq.m. A proportion of the site will accommodate retail premises as well as dining facilities and facilities for conferences and exhibitions, leisure and sports, child care, open space and relaxation, and underground parking. Following the expression of interest, which closes on September 3, 2010, Malta Enterprise will issue a request for proposals to the short-listed parties following a due diligence process. The preferred bidder, who will be granted an emphyteusis for 50 years, is expected to be chosen in the coming year, with the project commencing in 2012 and estimated to be finalised by 2015. For more information visit www.corporatevillagemalta.com

Neapolitan firm Palumbo SpA signed a 30-year emphytheusis agreement in June with the Maltese government for the take-over of the shiprepair section of Malta Shipyards.

activities, very often marked by controversies. According to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, over the last 40 years, the Malta Shipyards had absorbed over €1 billion in state-aid.

The transfer includes docks 4, 5, 6 and 7. The Cospicua shipyard was sold for €90.6 million. Palumbo will be paying €18 million upfront followed by €72.6 million in rent over 30 years.

The government decided to privatise Malta Shipyards in 2008, splitting it into four units. The Manoel Island Yacht Yard was handed over to the Manoel Island Yacht Yard consortium whose directors are Victor Bezzina, Raphael Bianchi. Michael Hili, Albert Mizzi, Christopher Mizzi and Mark A. Portelli - for a net asset value of €12.4 million. The privatisation of the other two units, the superyacht facility and the former shipbuilding site, have been put on hold for a strategic re-assessment by the government. 

The company will invest €23 million in the first five years of operation, increasing by another €7 million over the remaining 25 years. The family-run Palumbo SpA has two other smaller yards in Naples and Messina. Last March 31, Malta Shipyards closed its doors, ending 200 years of naval

Reproduced with courtesy of www.di-ve.com

Money / Issue 02 - 37


Ready for take-off The Aircraft Registry Act and accession to the Cape Town Treaty are intended to make Malta a more attractive jurisdiction for the registration of aircraft, says Nicolai Vella Falzon.

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he Government of Malta has set the foundations for the ratification of the Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Aircraft Protocol thereto (the Cape Town Treaty). On June 22, 2010 Parliament approved and published the Aircraft Registration Act which among other things includes the legislative framework for the implementation of the Cape Town Treaty into Maltese law. The Act will come into force at a date yet to be announced by the Minister responsible for Transport but indications are that this will be sooner rather than later. The decision to accede to Cape Town was taken on the back of a wider objective which Government has set for itself, namely to attempt to mirror the successes achieved in the maritime sector by building an aircraft registry of repute and attracting foreign aircraft owners and operators to register their aircraft in Malta. In fact the Aircraft Registration Act does much more than just lay down the foundations for accession to the Cape Town Treaty. It modernises legislation relating to aircraft registration and creates a specific regime for security over aircraft. The Act widens somewhat the qualifying requirements for the

registration of aircraft in Malta and also introduces notions of fractional ownership and ownership through trustees which are much needed developments in view of modern trends in aircraft ownership. In so far as the security regime is concerned, the Act establishes that an aircraft is a particular class of movable forming a separate and distinct asset within the estate of its owner, thereby providing separate security in so far as claims to which the aircraft is subject are concerned. Therefore, in case of insolvency of the owner of an aircraft, all claims to which

On a more practical level, if Malta is to make a success of its aircraft registry it needs to go beyond legislative intervention. 38 - Money / Issue 02

the aircraft may be subject will have preference over the said aircraft in relation to all other debts of the estate. The law recognises different types of security interests over aircraft including those of a seller (where there is a conditional sale with title reservation), those of a lessor under a lease agreement, mortgages, special privileges, possessory liens and international security interests (under Cape Town). This new security regime builds upon and improves the security available in respect of aircraft today which applies with reference to security over vessels under the Merchant Shipping Act.


Dr Nicolai Vella Falzon is a partner at Fenech & Fenech Advocates. He heads the Commercial & Corporate, ICT & IT, Corporate & Asset Finance, and Aviation Law Departments of the Firm.

With the implementation of the new Act, a separate and specific security regime for aircraft will be created. Of course, on top of this is the ratification of the Cape Town Treaty. Put simply, the intent behind the Treaty is to facilitate the acquisition and financing of aircraft. The Treaty is credited with five key objectives. Firstly, it provides for the creation of socalled “international interests” in aircraft which essentially are rights competent to owners, lessors, lessees or financiers of aircraft and which are given recognition in the various contracting states (hence “international interests”). Secondly, the Treaty establishes an International Registry which, true to the technological era we are living in, is an electronic registry fully accessible online. The Registry, which is physically located in Ireland, provides right holders the faculty of having their international interests over aircraft registered publicly, thus giving notice to third parties of such interests. Furthermore, registration has the effect of preserving priority over certain unregistered interests and over creditors generally in case of insolvency of the aircraft owner or operator. Thirdly, the Treaty seeks to provide creditors with a range of remedies for enforcement of their rights or interests over aircraft, including means for speedy interim relief, at times without the necessity of judicial intervention. More generally, the fourth and fifth objectives of the Treaty are to ensure that the particular needs of the aircraft finance sector are met and to provide financiers and creditors in the aviation market greater confidence when granting credit. In effect it has also had the benefit of making credit cheaper to obtain, thus benefitting borrowers and financiers alike.

It is hoped that the Aircraft Registry Act and accession to the Cape Town Treaty will go some way into making Malta a more attractive jurisdiction for the registration of aircraft. Malta already provides a very attractive package to foreign investors and has positioned itself as a preferred jurisdiction for the holding of assets and investments. With its attractive personal and corporate tax regime, a full imputation system of corporate tax providing shareholders with substantial tax refunds on distributions of dividends, an excellent holding regime, VAT exemptions for lessors and operators, and a wide networ k of double taxation treaties, Malta is in with the heavyweights. Add to this Malta’s EU and Eurozone membership, its geographical location, reliable legal framework, a highly competent professional and technical workforce and an efficient IT infrastructure. The ingredients are right and possibly as the world seems to be making its way out of the financial crisis and prospects for the rest of 2010 and 2011 are looking good, so is timing. Whether or not Malta will also succeed in attracting aircraft to its revamped registry is yet to be seen, but certainly the legislative framework is now geared up for that. However, on a more practical level, if Malta is to make a success of its Aircraft Registry it needs to go beyond legislative intervention. The current set up of the Aircraft Registry, currently housed within the Department of Civil Aviation’s premises in Luqa, requires additional resources and space, possibly a total relocation. Furthermore, local expertise required to deal with the technicalities of aircraft registration and licensing is scarce and possibly that expertise will need to be imported at least for the first few years. It is understood that Government has taken this challenge on board and is addressing infrastructural requirements as it prepares for the Act to go ‘live’.

IHGH among Malta’s European Business Champions Winston J. Zahra, Chief Executive Officer of Island Hotels Group Holdings plc., was recently presented with a certificate that recognises the company as one of only 15 local corporations selected as Country Representatives for The European Business Awards. The awards are dedicated to raising the visibility and progress of companies that excel in delivering innovation twinned with successful commercial results while acting responsibly and positively affecting the social environment they operate in. In 2009, the 99 Ruban d’Honneur recipients had a combined turnover greater than €570 billion and recorded an average annual profit growth of 56 per cent.

The successful businesses now go on to represent Malta in the next stage of the competition, where they will battle it out against other companies from across Europe to scoop a Ruban d’Honneur. Final category Award winners will be unveiled at The Westin, Paris, on November 16. Mr. Zahra said that, “It is an honour to be recognised as one of Malta’s leading organisations, and to be selected to represent Malta in the next round of the competition where we will be competing across Europe to receive a Ruban d’Honneur.”

Money / Issue 02 - 39


Mr John Paris is General Manager of Creditinfo Malta Limited, Malta’s leading Credit Rating Company. Creditinfo Malta is owned by the Creditinfo SCHUFA Group which is a Joint Venture between Iceland’s Creditinfo Group and Germany’s top Credit Rating company SCHUFA Holding AG. www.creditinfo.com.mt

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he recent global financial crisis has changed the way business is conducted today. This also applies to credit management. Foreign suppliers, for instance, now have the facility of viewing credit reports on their local distributors or partners in order to get a better picture of the company’s performance. The importance of filing the latest Annual Financial Statements with the Malta Financial Services Authority also plays a very important part in giving a clear picture in assessing one’s risk, as does having a good credit history, amongst other important issues such as turnover of company, type of industry the company is in, the number of years the company has been trading and finally the financial ratios.

Credit terms and conditions Granting credit always involves a level of risk. For John Paris, prevention is better than cure.

On the local market, the situation is also slowly changing. Many companies today use services such as the one Creditinfo Malta offers in order to evaluate the credit worthiness of their customers. Some companies use our services in a subtle way in order to evaluate the level of risk they are taking. Other companies go a step further and inform all their clients that their credit status is automatically being evaluated when they apply for credit. Of course, granting credit always involves a certain level of risk. However having the right information together with a signed credit contract, where the customer will know beforehand the terms and conditions of the transaction, clearly makes things easier. The type of industry also plays a big part in this as certain companies would no longer be in business if they did not sell on credit. The car industry, for instance, is a case in point. In today’s hectic lifestyles, agreeing to credit terms at the initial stage of a possible business transaction is fundamental. In the long term it could save a lot of time and hassle. On the other hand, when companies do not have credit contracts in place, many times they are faced with the problem of extending credit terms without having any other option. This

is not the way business should be conducted - however unfortunately in Malta many companies, specifically the SMEs, still do a substantial amount of business in this way. Extending credit terms comes at a cost and this should be analysed carefully. Evaluating the credit terms with all customers should be reviewed on a regular basis. When it comes to a point that a company cannot retrieve its credit, there are not many alternatives but to take legal action. Creditinfo Malta offers a service where we put pressure on the debtor to pay up their dues - otherwise they would be exposed on our Defaulting Debtors Database. As our services are used by most of Malta’s banking institutions, when a debtor appears on our database, they would find it impossible to get access to credit facilities prior to settling the debt. However, there are a number of procedures which need to be taken prior to reporting any defaulter. In the case of new customers asking for credit, there are a number of steps businesses need to take into account to evaluate the credit risk. Apart from having available basic information such as ID number, VAT number, Company Registration number together with a list of Directors, to open an account for a new customer, a company also needs to clearly explain its terms and conditions it is offering. When opening an account for a company, one also needs to establish how long a company has been trading. You also need to know if the person applying for credit is actually authorised on behalf of the company to apply for credit. The latest financial accounts of the company would be analysed in order to provide a Credit Score. Checking of court records to verify if the prospective customer had any outstanding money claims together with input from the sales team regarding any possible negative history of the customer would also be taken into consideration. When opening an account for an individual a copy of the person’s ID card must also be presented.

Money / Issue 02 - 41


Extending credit terms comes at a cost and this should be analysed carefully.

Selling on credit to existing customers is safer than selling to new customers as from your own records you can see the credit history of your customer. This also depends of the type of business - if the customer has a good track record and intends expanding their business, it might be a good opportunity to give extended credit as you could also increase your turnover with the customer. New agreements for extended credit must also be agreed to in writing as experience has shown that when there are no signed agreements problems always seem to crop up. Also with today’s sophisticated technologies it is also possible to keep an eye on the ever changing situation of a customer through a monitoring system. As a Credit Reference Agency, Creditinfo Malta is specifically designed to assist credit control departments in assessing the creditworthiness of their customers. The database goes through a rigorous verification procedure before being entered into their system,

therefore keeping in line with Data Protection Act. The service allows companies to vet potential customers before entering into any agreement, thus potentially avoiding the provision of credit to clearly risky debtors. It also allows companies to put effective pressure on their defaulting debtors to settle their dues. Apart from court information defaults such as bounced cheques, dishonoured bills of exchange and dishonoured credit contracts are also shown on the database. The service also grants customers the possibility of monitoring the status of their debtors on a continuous basis through automated processes. If a company has advance warning of a potential default, steps can be taken to minimise the damage. For Creditinfo Malta, prevention is better than cure - in today’s difficult financial climate a statement like this is food for thought.

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Have a safe trip Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, travel insurance is a must to avoid any disappointment, says Vittorio Laferla.

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ust imagine - you are at the airport on your way to the holiday of your dreams or the business trip that could make or break a new business deal. And then you find out that the flight has been cancelled or severely delayed, or you fall ill and require medical treatment half way through your holiday. Or maybe you arrive at your destination, only to discover that your luggage is still in Malta.

Sounds like a typical pre-holiday nightmare? Unfortunately for some travellers this was a reality. These unhappy scenarios are some of the eventualities that may occur when you are travelling. While not much can be done to avoid these eventualities, travel insurance lightens your burden as it is designed to financially cover any mishaps that may and often do crop up.

Mr Vittorio Laferla is a Senior Executive Manager within the Underwriting Department at Middlesea Insurance p.l.c. Middlesea Insurance p.l.c. (C-5553) is authorised by the Malta Financial Services Authority to carry on both Long Term and General Business under the Insurance Business Act, 1998.

Choose the right travel insurance Top tips to consider when buying your travel insurance

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irst, make sure you read and understand the insurance policy. An insurance policy that covers everything does not exist - find out whether the policy covers all your belongings which you will be carrying during the trip, including jewellery and other valuables. Generally, most travel insurance policies do not cover: claims resulting from acts of war, treatment related to pre-existing medical conditions, pregnancy or child birth, cosmetic surgery, diseases for which you have not taken the recommended inoculations, delays caused by your failure to check in at the airport on time. Also, make sure you know the maximum amount of money that the insurer will reimburse in case of damage or theft since many policies place a limit on this amount. When deciding on which insurance product to buy, don’t just compare prices. The benefits and exclusions of the cover are just as important.

Therefore whether you are headed off to a business trip or travelling for leisure, take no chances - travel insurance is a must to avoid any disappointment. Remember that anything can happen so it’s better to be safe than sorry. As many a traveller will tell you, the main benefit of travel insurance is the peace of mind in knowing that should something go wrong during your travels, you are at least financially covered. Travel insurance is extremely important whatever country you are visiting and irrespective of the length of your stay, whenever you travel and whatever time of the year.

Check whether you can extend the benefits of your insurance policy. Some activities such as extreme and winter sports are not usually included in the policy. However, if you inform your insurer, this cover can be bought back.

Good cover

Inform your insurer of any medical conditions that you may have. Claims arising from pre-existing conditions are usually not covered by a travel insurance policy.

•L  oss of passport, visa and the cost of acquiring temporary documents

This summer, it is advisable to opt for a travel insurance policy that covers trip cancellations resulting from volcanic ash. Remember that some insurance policies require you to pay an excess, this being the first amount which you are liable to pay in case of a claim. This varies according to your claim. Take care of your belongings and don’t leave your property unattended. Just because you are insured it does not mean that you can be more negligent. You may get back the money you lost but nothing can make up for all the time wasted. Then, with all your travel insurance needs taken care of, the next step is to grab your luggage, set off for yet another adventure, and in the words of Mark Twain “Explore, dream and discover.”

Most travel insurance policies cover:

•Medical expenses and hospital benefits in case of falling ill during the trip or expenses following an accidental death, bodily injury or permanent total disability •P  ersonal money in case of stolen cash during the trip •T  ravel delay, cancellation or abandonment of journey and missed departure •L  oss, delayed or damaged luggage •E  xtension for extreme sports and adventure trips may be provided.

Money / Issue 02 - 45


A Sight to Sea - Untitled #11 hand printed archival silver gelatin print

Rider to the sea Photographer David Pisani explores his childhood memories in a series of coastline fine art photographs.

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ne of the primary concerns of contemporary art is its ability to reflect on the human condition and the times we live in. The artist’s own introspective research often mirrors the society or environment in which they live and work and their art becomes a heightened statement about the realities that surround us. In documenting the Maltese coastline, photographer David Pisani has embarked on an inner exploration of his childhood memories connected to the coastal regions he visited as a child. The choice of technique - an archaic pinhole camera deliberately emphasises this concept of memory by producing images that resemble the vague reconstructions of childhood memories.

46 - Money / Issue 02

More often than not these images conjured by the mind are lacking in detail and are somewhat obscure, yet they carry all the emotional energy of the experience of a time and place. Through the use of very long exposures, these images are also a contemplative record of time passing. However this collection also poses deeper questions about the environment we live in and the changing conditions of our planet. As we become more aware of the earth’s fragility we must also confront the uncomfortable questions regarding human activity and the consequences of our interference with the natural environment. Far from being a political statement, this collection seeks to reveal the realities of nature as we perceive them today and as we may one day have no other means but to recollect them as distant memories.


The man behind the lens “I had long been considering a photo essay on the Maltese coastline, prompted by the fact that the islands are threatened by over development and that many places I knew as a child have succumbed to the forces of so-called economic progress,” says David Pisani. “However I have never been an eco-militant nor politically motivated in my art and the whole idea seemed somewhat contrived. Early in 2009 both my parents passed away within weeks of each other and as the process of grieving took hold of my senses, I was drawn back to the coastline and to the memories of the seemingly endless summers spent with my parents and my brothers.” “As a new urge to document these places began brewing inside me it became clear that what I was trying to photograph were the memories, or the mental and emotional images I had of the coastline, and not a systematic documentation of ‘what’s left’. From this came my decision to shoot on a Zero Image 4x5 pinhole camera and to produce a series of images that reflected what I felt, rather than what I saw. Yet despite my apparent avoidance of any political involvement it soon became clear that my images also became a testament of what the pristine Maltese coastline looks like today, and what it may one day look like only in our minds as a distant memory.” A Sight to Sea - Untitled #9 hand printed archival silver gelatin print

I was drawn back to the coastline and to the memories of the seemingly endless summers spent with my parents and my brothers. A Sight to Sea - Untitled #7 hand printed archival silver gelatin print

David Pisani was born in Malta in 1965. He is a professional photographer specialising in fine art black and white photography. He has drawn inspiration from the work of Ansel Adams and Eugène Atget, the former for his technical virtuosity and the latter for his emotional rendering of the streets and buildings of Paris, a city that became a pivotal place in Pisani’s career.

A Sight to Sea - Untitled #28 hand printed archival silver gelatin print

Money / Issue 02 - 47


Pisani’s extensive architectural documentation entitled Vanishing Valletta has been published as a monograph and a selection of this photographic essay is represented in the permanent collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. He is also the author of Future City, an architectural photo essay on the city of Dubai. This collection was commissioned by Emirates Airlines for their corporate art collection. A Sight to Sea is being exhibited at the SO Galerie, a new art gallery committed to showcase the very best in international art and in providing investment and leasing opportunities to the serious art collector. Covering a broad spectrum of techniques, media and styles it strives to offer a diverse inventory of original works of art, often sourcing the works through personal contact with the artists themselves. Apart from the extensive inventory held on site, SO Galerie can provide tailor made art works by directly commissioning an artist to create a work of art to a client’s specifications. With a full calendar of openings and events SO Galerie can attract a significant amount of patrons to its premises, often chosen from a select group of art collectors. SO Galerie forms part of the Picture House Group, an established firm in the supply and installation of high quality art display. So Galerie is situated in Dun Karm Stret, Iklin and is open from Monday to Friday from 10:00am to 5:00pm, Saturdays from 10:00am to 1:00 pm, or by appointment. For more information visit www.sogalerie.com.

Photographer David Pisani on location shooting with a Zero Image 4x5 pinhole camera

sponsored by Illy Coffee, also represented by the M. Demajo Group. The Group is also a major shareholder of VISET plc., which operates the Valletta Cruise Liner Terminal. Subsequent visits included a stop at Multipackaging Ltd - one of the Group’s manufacturing concerns - producers of high quality carton boxes. The next stop showcased Exigy - one of the companies from the Group’s ICT division - at their offices in Qormi. This was followed by a stop at Piaggio Centre, the Group’s showcase of the Piaggio and Vespa bike collection, and ended with a visit to The Malta Experience to watch the newly launched digital show, now boasting 15 simultaneous narrations.

M. Demajo group celebrates centenary The M. Demajo Group celebrated its 100 year milestone during a recent media event. Top media representatives were entertained on an open top bus as they toured around the island visiting places of interest from the Group’s portfolio. A diversified Group - across six sectors, spanning over 25 companies - saw the media visiting The Valletta Waterfront, where they were treated to a welcoming breakfast at Q Bar

48 - Money / Issue 02

During the morning’s event, Illy Crema, Malta’s new frozen coffee cream, was launched on the bastions of the Malta Experience café. The highlight of the event was a networking reception at Demajo House, which enabled the shareholders and directors of the Group to network with the media and other important stakeholders. The visit to Demajo House began with a tour of the historic palazzo, and was then followed by a speech by Deputy Chairman, Herman Miceli Demajo. The Group’s centenary program also includes a corporate social responsibility aspect, and together with Din L-Art Helwa, the M. Demajo Group will be restoring the Queen Victoria statue in Pjazza Regina over the next month.


Watch this space Once he raced against the clock, but nowadays David Coulthard goes by the watch. Money keeps up with TW Steel’s brand ambassador.

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or most of his life, David Coulthard has lived in the fast lane. Born in 1971 in Dumfries, Scotland, he began karting at an early age and soon graduated to Formula Ford, where he won the first ever McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year award. His foot firmly placed on the gas pedal, Coulthard moved on to race in Formula 3, Formula 3000 and eventually became test driver for Formula One team WilliamsRenault in 1993. When Williams driver Ayrton Senna died in a crash while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, Coulthard was promoted to the race team alongside Damon Hill. In 1996, the Scot signed for McLaren, teaming up with future champion Mika Häkkinen. After nine seasons with the Woking-based team, Coulthard was signed up by Red Bull Racing, where he enjoyed a second lease on racing life. At the 2006 Spanish Grand Prix, he even joined the Formula One’s 200 Club, which includes a list of drivers that have competed in 200 Grand Prix races. Then at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, Coulthard put his name on Red Bull’s first podium finish.

50 - Money / Issue 02

On the Thursday before the 2008 British Grand Prix, Coulthard announced that he would retire at the end of the season, but that he would remain at Red Bull as a consultant. The following year, he was also hired as one of BBC’s Formula One coverage presenters. But surely, after 15 years of Formula One racing, there must be a hint of nostalgia for the Formula One scene. “I miss the unique mental and physical challenge of driving the fastest cars in the world around a race track,” says Coulthard. “Nothing else comes close to that rush of adrenalin.” “Still, every job has its challenges,” adds Coulthard. “Live TV definitely gets a certain amount of adrenaline flowing as you are listening to three voices in your ear - one is the live count of how long the show will continue for, the other is the producer calling the camera shots and various videos to be played into the show, and the last is the editor giving you prompts and suggesting different topics of conversation. There’s always plenty going on behind the scenes.”


Then this year, Coulthard put his racing gloves back on to compete in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters, driving a 2008spec Mercedes C-Class run by Mücke Motorsport. What part did nostalgia for racing play in this decision? “I wanted a fresh racing challenge without the time commitments that other forms of racing involve,” says Coulthard. “It was also a chance to work with Mercedes Benz again, who I raced for in Formula One for nine seasons.” It would be difficult to recapture everything that Coulthard went through in 15 years of Formula One racing. The memories, however, remain. “The most unforgettable moment was getting pole and winning the Monaco Grand Prix,” says Coulthard. “That was really special, as was winning the British Grand Prix two years in succession. Then there are the people who influenced my career, starting with my parents through to Jackie Stewart, Frank Williams, Ron Dennis, Norbert Haug and Dietrich Mateschitz.” During those 15 years, Coulthard also saw Formula One racing change. “The technology developed significantly,” says Coulthard, “as did the safety standards in racing. However, Formula One always was, and should remain, the fastest form of closed wheel racing. That is its unique selling point.” This season, Red Bull, the team which Coulthard helped set up and for whom he still acts as ambassador, has the fastest car on the grid, with drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel bagging heavy points. Coulthard is of course pleased with the results. “I am proud of the team’s result and the part I played in establishing the team,” he says. Still, there might be a disappointment in store for the 13-time Formula One Grand Prix winner - his record of being the highest scoring British Formula One driver ever could soon be broken. “I believe that with the new points system, that record will soon be broken,” says Coulthard. “However, you have to live for your time and not in the past - I did what I could while I was competing.”

Time is something that we wish we had more of yet enjoy seeing it pass.

Apart from being a Red Bull ambassador, Coulthard is also a brand ambassador for international watch brand TW Steel, and sports the TW Steel branding on his race helmet when competing in the German-based DTM Series for Mücke Motorsport. For Coulthard, timing has been an essential element during his racing career, and his association with TW Steel is a continuation of that. “Time is something that we wish we had more of yet enjoy seeing it pass when we are having fun,” Coulthard says. “In a racing car you always want a good time which inevitably means it has to pass quickly.” Apart from Coulthard, TW Steel also counts Formula One legend Emerson Fittipaldi as one of the brand’s ambassadors. “I am a huge fan of Emerson’s racing and life achievements,” says Coulthard. “I have a signed picture on my office wall showing Emerson and Jackie Stewart racing together and they have both signed. I hope I retain his passion for motorsports when I am his age.”

Money / Issue 02 - 51


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Operation speed Orthopaedic surgeon Anthony Bernard has been won over by two Japanese performance cars. Malcolm J. Naudi finds how the surgeon’s hands treat the Subaru Impreza STi and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI. Photos by Christian Sant Fournier

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fter half a lifetime driving European cars, surgeon Anthony Bernard thought he was making “a big mistake” when he decided to buy a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI. The soft-spoken surgeon is speaking to me in his office at Mater Dei Hospital, where he has summoned me for “a 10-minute chat”. Once we get talking it is hard to stop and the role cars play in his life immediately emerges. “I did not drive before I got my licence and I didn’t even get my licence at 18. It was what everybody used to do. In fact, my father prompted me. He said: “Don’t you think it is about time that you got your licence?” when I was 19.” “I think he regretted it after that,” Mr Bernard adds, “because I became totally obsessed with cars. I was so taken with them - it gives you such a feeling of freedom and independence, and the buzz you get from driving fast - on the track, I hasten to add - is second to none.” He then corrects himself, “To possibly one thing, which will remain nameless.” His current everyday drive is a Subaru Impreza STi. He bought it after the Evo, which he has had for about seven years.

“At the time, I wanted to part exchange a Cosworth I had, but when I saw the new Subaru that came out, I decided to buy it. My sons, who are very keen on these cars, also helped persuade me. I think the model I had was the nicest - the best looking one and the most balanced.” The Impreza, kitted with a Prodrive upgrade, produces over 300 bhp (that’s a lot of horses). “I wanted to have a car that is reliable on the road. It is very well mannered and runs along like a normal car.” Of course, that’s as long as you don’t have a heavy right foot. “When you want to drive it hard, you can hear the exhaust note change and it really is a delight. It’s the sort of car that just puts a smile on your face. If you’ve been having a bad day, it allows you to leave your worries way behind.” Even the turbo, he says, is civilised, kicking in quietly and undramatically. He enjoys driving home on quiet roads from his twice-weekly clinics in the south of the island. The same thing cannot be said for the Evo.

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“It brings out the worst in people. They want to race me. I don’t know what possesses them because they haven’t got a chance in hell.” The Evo is used mainly for racing in hillclimbs. I ask him about the bhp but he goes on to explain how good a package the car is and how Charles Camilleri (iżŻoqdi) has developed its programmable ECU to maximise the power since this was the first Evo to be imported to Malta. “I’ve always had cars that go fast or can be induced to perform better. This is something different - it is such an ideal package. It’s not like it is an ordinary car that someone put a fast engine in. I’ve had cars like that. I won’t mention the name because I might upset some people, but I’ve found some cars I’ve had are such pigs to drive. And they were dangerous, especially when you’re going at a certain speed and you can’t brake

easily or the chassis doesn’t allow it to handle properly.” “The beauty of these Japanese cars is that they were built for the purpose, with lightweight components, and they keep evolving, as their name implies.” I remind him that I am still curious about the power. “So, on a race day,” he concedes, “we fill it up with racing fuel. Then we can up the boost and alter the map, and get over 500 bhp.” He says this in a matter-of-fact way but he has trophies in his office to prove his race-winning pedigree. Mr Bernard has driven what he terms “exotic cars” in Malta and abroad, both in England where he studied and had a modified race car and on the Continent, where he is reluctant to drive on the left because so much concentration is

needed. He has also taken part in track days in which he has raced a number of cars, including Aston Martins and his own models. He feels his cars are best suited for local driving because of their hard suspension and the fact that they have permanent four-wheel drive. “This is why the cars I have are the ideal sort of cars - you can use them every day and I can use them on our type of roads, which are not so smooth.” “The suspension and rallying background come to the fore. Although I do not have the latest model Evo, I pride myself with still being able to keep up with the later ones. In fact I still win a fair number of races in my class.” He has no intention of changing them anytime soon and refuses to mention what his next car would be, “Just in case my wife is reading this.”

Where the good life tastes better Zammeats are the top local importers and distributors of quality meats, including Charolais, Wagyu-Kobe beef, Aberdeen Angus and other premium meats from France and Italy. Apart from running the butcher’s shop at the Arkadia Food Store, Portomaso, Zammeats keep a beautifully stocked delicatessen at Arkadia. Everything is freshly imported - from terrines, pates and tabboulehs to a vast selection of soft and hard cheeses. The Zammeats deli also offers delicious platters which include fine French cheeses, quality hams and salamis, compotes and other delicacies. Prices start from €25. Go on, treat yourself. Zammeats is at: Zammeats Butcher Shop and Delicatessen at Arkadia Food Store, Portomaso, and Zammeats Butcher Shop at Giuzeppe Calleja Street, Swatar. For more information visit www.facebook.com/Zammeats or contact E: Zammeats@onvol.net 54 - Money / Issue 02


Gotta go to Gozo

gotta go to

fashion - home - food

arkadia Commercial Centre, Victoria - Gozo | www.arkadia.com.mt


Lord of the ring Photography: Tonio Lombardi, W: www.toniolombardi.com Fashion Stylist: LukeEngerer / Model: Ryan Shot on location at Bertu’s Gym, www.bertusgym.com

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Piazza Italia jeans - €28.99 Debenhams vest - €8.00 Tommy Hilfiger jacket - €349.00 Tommy Hilfiger belt - €59.00 Moshulu shoes @ King Shoe shop - €79.90 Raymond Weil Freelancer Chrono Steel and Leather - €1,835 Money / Issue 01 - 57


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Red Herring top @ Debenhams - €26.00 Piazza Italia shorts - €11.99 Opposite Piazza Italia shorts - €11.99 Red Herring @ Debenhams top - €24.00 Breitling Colt Ocean Steel - €1,980 Money / Issue 01 - 59


CK shirt - €79.95 CK shorts - €79.95 Ecco mocassins - €104.90 Breitling Chrono SuperOcean Steel and Leather - €3,280 Centre Jasper Conran shorts @ Debenhams - €20.00 Opposite Esprit jeans - €69.95 CK underwear - €19.95 Rolex Yacht Master Steel and Platinum - €7,140 60 - Money / Issue 01


Money / Issue 01 - 61


Piazza Italia shorts - €21.99 Piazza Italia shirt - €21.99 CK T-shirt - €39.95 Moshulu shoes @ King Shoe shop - €79.90 Raymond Weil Cosi Grande Steel and Leather - €2,480 Opposite Esprit shorts - €55.95 Esprit T-shirt - €25.95 Pikolinos sandals @ King Shoe shop - €84.90 Debenhams hat - €19.00 Breitling Chronomat Steel and 18ct Rose Gold - €5,790 62 - Money / Issue 01


Money / Issue 01 - 63


Let’s do lunch

Keeping cool under business lunch pressure has never been so easy. It’s a done deal. Photography: Tonio Lombardi / Stylist: Kira Drury

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01 Carpisa briefcase, €155.00 02 Esprit white shirt, €29.95 03 Piazza Italia shades, €9.99 04 Esprit belt, €19.95 05 Red Herring @ Debenhams blue shirt, €32.00 06 New Look jeans, €35.00 07 New Look check shirt, €25.00 08 Piazza Italia shoes, €29.99 09 New Look hat, €8.00 10 Ecco folder, €59.90 11 Esprit wallet, €25.95 12 Ecco notebook €19.90

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01 Debenhams bag, €39.00 02 Accessorize fan, €8.90 03 Orsay jacket, €34.90 04 Peacocks dress, €35.50 05 Scholl shoes, €90.00 06 Debenhams necklace, €20.00 07 The Doll’s House shades, €10.00 08 Debenhams watch, €26.00 09 Upim lipstick, €7.80 10 Monsoon Home book & pen, €9.00

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The taste of summer Courtesy of Zammeats butcher’s shop and delicatessen at Arkadia Food Store, Portomaso. Photos by Christian Sant Fournier

Tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad You need: 100g cherry tomatoes 180g buffalo mozzarella 120g mixed salad leaves

1tbs extra virgin olive oil 1tbs red wine vinegar Bunch of fresh basil Salt and pepper

Method: Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and the mozzarella in small pieces. Put in a bowl with the salad leaves, vinegar, olive oil, basil and seasoning. Toss gently with your hands and place neatly in bowl just before serving.

Grilled Aberdeen Angus beef sirloin You need: 250g Aberdeen Angus beef sirloin 30g mushrooms 200g potatoes 50g tomatoes

1tbs extra virgin olive oil 30g butter 10g thyme Clove of garlic 100ml beef juices

Method: Season the sirloin and grill for one minute on both sides. Then leave to rest. In the meantime, heat the stuffed mushroom and blanch the tomatoes in a high temperature oven. Peel, wash and cut the potatoes and fry. For the sauce, reduce the beef juices by half and deglaze the pan with red wine before reducing again. Put the sirloin in an oven for eight minutes until it is cooked to medium. Serve.

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A fine cheese plate with rosemary shortbread and grape reduction You need: 50g Buche de Chevre 50g Rondin de Brebis 50g Parmigiano Reggiano 50g Comté Délice de Bourgogne For the rosemary shortbread, you need: 150g flour 100g butter 10g sugar Rosemary, finely chopped For the grape reduction, you need: A few grapes Strawberry jam Sugar

Rosemary shortbread Grape reduction Apple crisp Mustard cress For the apple crisp, you need: 1 apple, cored Icing sugar

Clove Balsamic vinegar

Method: For the rosemary shortbread, put all the ingredients in a bowl and knead together until you form a dough. Cut into long, thin strips and bake. To make the apple crisp, slice the apple finely and dust with icing sugar. Place on a waxed paper and leave in a very low temperature oven for three hours. Leave to cool and place in an airtight container. For the grape reduction, cut the grapes in half and remove the seeds. Then poach the grapes in sugar, strawberry jam, clove and a drop of balsamic vinegar. Simmer on a low heat for an hour, then blend and sieve. Cut the cheese delicately and plate. Place the rosemary shortbread at an angle, the mustard cress on top, and garnish with the apple crisp. Drizzle with the grape reduction and serve.

The recipe for success All the fine cheeses and ingredients used in these recipes come courtesy of the Zammeats butcher’s shop and Zammeats delicatessen at the Arkadia Food Store, Portomaso and Zammeats butcher’s shop at Giuzeppe Calleja Street, Swatar. Zammeats are the top local importers and distributors of quality meats, including Charolais, Aberdeen Angus and other premium meats from France and Italy. Zammeats also import and distribute

Wagyu-Kobe beef, renowned for its texture, tenderness and flavour. The Zammeats delicatessen stocks the finest foods, including quality hams, salamis, foie gras, compotes and the best cheese selection on the island. For more information visit www.facebook.com/ Zammeats or contact E: zammeats@onvol.net and M: 7940 5205.

Money / Issue 02 - 67


The lake night show Mona Farrugia sinks and then swims in the luxurious Villa Feltrinelli at Lake Garda.

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he drive to Gargnano, a village which D.H. Lawrence - not exactly the jolliest in the group described as “One of the most beautiful places on earth”, is a twisting, turning, deliciouslystuck-in-third-gear beauty. No matter where you start off from, the panoramica really lives up to its name: shimmering lakes, armies of green forests poking the clouds, vineyards, and limonaie - strange-looking stone pillars which are actually lemon gardens and houses spaced at regular intervals on the mountain slopes. The Feltrinelli family contributed heavily to the public structures in this lovely little village. In 1903 they built a hospital and

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retirement home, in 1913 the road which connects the mountain hamlets of Navazzo, Sasso and Liano to Gargnano, and in 1921, the elementary school. It made sense then that in 1913 the Villa Feltrinelli would pass on to Carlo Feltrinelli who, not content with managing an immense inherited fortune including lumber and private banking, went on to found Edison and the Italian Credit Institute. As a reward, King Vittorio Emanuele II granted Carlo’s family the title of ‘Marchese di Gargnano’. You can feel this heavy drape of history the moment you step into the stunning Villa Feltrinelli, which today

hosts guests as culturally and financially far from the bicycle-riding hordes on the panoramica as is humanly possible. Outside, no matter whether you turn up in a massive Merc or in a rental Aygo, the welcome is the same: one porter to unload it and another to welcome you with a tiny bouquet of flowers and lead you into the stunning reception area. There is no check-in procedure: you are in somebody’s house and it really feels like it. And what a house. To say that the Grand Hotel Villa Feltrinelli is beautiful or breathtaking is to apply the understatement of the century. Every single part of it flutters with exquisite detail: the almost


floor to ceiling (and the ceiling here is 20 metres high) stained glass windows, with the family ‘F’ insigna imprinted on each pane, are saturated colour drawing in the light even on the greyest of days. The mahogany and walnut tables of differing heights and sizes carry sepia family portraits in solid silver frames. The intricately carved ceilings frame the ice cream coloured frescoes and all of it serves to remind you of one thing: this was somebody’s home. I could have chosen a suite outside of the main villa, as there are four: the Casa dei Fiori with its private entrance; the Casa Rustica basking in great views of the lake; the Limonaia with its three floors and large outdoor covered patio; or the Boat House, which comes with a fireplace, two private outdoor terraces and a marble bath. Instead, I am staying in one of the guestrooms in the Villa itself because I really want to live this experience. It is called ‘Turchese’ - there are no numbers here - and although the lady leading me to it offers to take me up in the walnut and brass-clad lift, I prefer to take the pinkmarble, wide staircase. To call this a ‘guestroom’ is really not giving it enough credit. Most people live in

houses smaller than this: the bed is huge and dressed up in a traditional 300-thread count design by Frette called the Fiandra. The draperies around the Villa are from the original pattern called the Feltrinelli Sheer, a delicate embroidered cream-coloured fabric reproduced by Rubelli of Venice. Normally I would not switch any music on, but here the sound systems (there are two, one for the bedroom and another for the dressing room) offer eight stations including jazz and opera, so I do.

Right next to the window which is strategically placed so that you wake up to the never-ending gleam of Lake Garda, and just beneath, the heated swimming pool - is a writing desk with a selection of cotton writing paper and a Villa Feltrinelli roller-ball as heavy as a Mont Blanc and equally beautiful to write with. Befitting, considering that it was Giangiacomo Feltrinelli - who published the works of Boris Pasternak and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, bringing Italian literature to the world’s reading glasses who was the last remaining family resident. Giangiacomo was a rebel in the way only somebody with never-ending fortunes can be. The Villa itself was caught in the crossfire of two extraordinary destinies.

Mussolini was confined here and forced into humiliating isolation by the Germans. Once the dictator departed, in came Giangiacomo, member of the Communist Party and a candidate for the Italian parliament. He also counted Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh as his friends. In the 1960s, Giangiacomo organised an anniversary party for the Feltrinelli Publishing House in the house. Shortly after, he left its leadership and joined terrorist political militancy which led to his tragic death: he blew himself up while trying to do the same to a power station. In all probability, the documents charting the terrorist activity of the Gruppo Azione Partiggiana, as well as correspondence with Pasternak, were in the Villa. The drama of the period is still felt in the architecture. There are plump sofas everywhere, honesty bars, oil paintings depicting ‘extra’ guests in all the rooms, and books wherever you look. For the first time ever, the beautiful dressing rooms, up a couple of steps from the bed area and split into male and female on either side, pale into insignificance. The bathroom, with its heated marble floor and its 150ml bottles of Aqua di Parma products, is gorgeous, overlooking and yet still just a washing area when one considers that just outside there is the Villa Feltrinelli Park with its eight acres of landscaped grounds planted with magnolia, olive and orange trees. I walk and walk. There are loungers everywhere you look, discreetly placed in twos away from everybody

else, so I sit, read and stare at the lake. For some reason, and I am presuming that the hotel management actually manages this, there are no children anywhere. Although I can imagine that the kids would love the nature anyway, there are no child facilities which, for those

wanting to get away, even from their own let alone from others’, is absolutely perfect. While I am having a bespoke breakfast - the idea of a buffet in this place is, as one would imagine, ludicrous - I notice that somebody has just alighted from their helicopter on the helipad adjacent to the central area. He makes his way to a table on the lake which has obviously been specifically set up for him, has breakfast, spends an hour or so reading his newspapers, then gets back into his helicopter and leaves. I wonder who he was. I wonder who the other guests - mostly couples, either very young or really quite advanced in age - are. The Villa Feltrinelli may be public these days, in that it will welcome anybody who can pay, yet it still manages to be stunningly private. There is no bling and no gift shops for those normally attracted to all that is ostentatious. There is just silence and beauty.

Money / Issue 02 - 69


How to get there Crema di Limoncello You need: • Pure (95%) alcohol (from pharmacies, on order) • 6 local lemons. Do not use waxed lemons • 400ml fresh cream

This lemon plays the cello Lemons have been grown in the Lake Garda area since time immemorial. In fact, they could probably be its first example of intensive farming, going as far back as the Renaissance. In the 16th century, the Venetian Republic was shipping its lemons to the courts of Northern Europe and real exportation kicked off in the 18th century. The lemon hothouses at Lake Garda transformed the appearance of the countryside, with columnar buildings constructed to protect plantations against the potential harsh winters in this part of Italy. In 1795, Goethe called the huge lemons, still available for sale in the towns around the area, ‘delightful things’ and they really are. Their knobbly peel makes an excellent limoncello or crema di limoncello. Here is my take on it.

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• 400g vanilla sugar (place your used vanilla bean pods in normal unbleached sugar and leave for at least a week) Method: Wash and zest the lemons. Then place the zest in a large, sealable jar and pour the alcohol. Leave to infuse for a week. Heat the cream slowly without boiling and then add the sugar. Stir until it melts and let it cool. Open the jar of zest and alcohol carefully (the alcohol creates pressure inside the jar) and pour in the sugar and the fresh cream. Close the container and shake well to mix. Sieve all into individual bottles and place in the freezer. The pure alcohol will stop the mix from freezing and the cold will keep the cream from turning rancid. If you want to make a low-carb version of this, just use 200 grams of Tagatose (from pharmacies and some supermarkets) instead of sugar. For more recipes visit www.planetmona.com

Air Malta flies to Verona and Bologna regularly. This is not yet a popular flight and therefore tickets are as cheap as €23 (excluding taxes) one way. With Air Malta you get a 20-kilo baggage allocation and therefore you can splash out on the alcohol or beauty products that you buy from the area. It is simply impossible not to buy food to bring back while in Italy. If you are a Flypass member, you get first dibs at the seats at the front of the plane. As these flights are usually all-economy, you can ask for the first rows when checking in. Both in Malta and in Verona, there were no quibbles with this, unlike some other airports. You then need to drive to the Grand Hotel Villa Feltrinelli: do it in style or do it cheaply. At Verona airport there is an entire selection of car-hire companies (out of the arrivals lounge, to the left, then right again) but with Sixt, you get a 25 per cent discount if you are a permanent Flypass holder. Moreover, Sixt turned out to be very honest: unlike some other car hire companies, all I needed to do at the end of the trip was refuel. I have been fleeced before with ‘extras’ which I never chose after my return - this did not happen here.


Claude Camilleri is a Master NLP Practitioner and is the founder of www.successlodge.com.

The flight is right Even if you’re a frequent business flyer, you can still avoid jet lag, says Claude Camilleri.

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ravelling can be an amazing experience if we do it right. By taking some time out beforehand to prepare ourselves, we are almost certain to enjoy our business trip or holiday. It is preparation that makes a journey relaxing and enjoyable - by planning ahead we can avoid unnecessary stress. Although airports are designed to make our travels as smooth as possible, having a stress-free experience is nigh to impossible. Airports are becoming busier and flights are more frequent and full - in fact, travelling by plane has almost become like commuting by bus or by train. This does not mean that we have no control over our travelling experience. We certainly do. By planning carefully our whole trip from A-Z, we are more likely to have a stress-free trip. The first step to ensure a pleasurable journey is to pack the right things to take with us. There is nothing worse than going somewhere and carrying belongings that we will not use. Likewise, going somewhere and finding out you left something important behind can change the outcome of your trip. Your luggage should be prepared according to the length of your stay, the weather, the location where you will spend most of your time, and the main things you plan on doing. By packing right you can be sure that one area of your tip will be taken care of. Remember not to leave your packing until the last minute - otherwise, there is a bigger chance that you will forget something.

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Before a flight, make sure you get enough rest. Sleep is important - your body, mind and soul need it. Have a good shower followed by a nice cup of camomile tea. Set your alarm to wake you up one hour before you have to leave home. Then when you wake up, check whether your flight is on schedule - this will help you avoid unnecessary waiting at the airport if your flight has been delayed. Before leaving home, have something to eat and drink as you don’t know whether you will have the time to buy food or drinks at the airport. Travelling on an empty stomach can make us nauseous and even irritable. Not having enough fluids in our body can make us dehydrated, even lightheaded. Time management is also key to having a good flight. Make sure you arrive at the airport two hours before

departure. This will ensure that you get good seats and that you will have enough time to stretch your legs before your flight. Airport security has been tightened for obvious reasons. To avoid the hassle of undressing in public, go easy with the metal objects, belts, and watches - it is very important to dress lightly when travelling. Make sure that you follow the airport’s directions for items that may be carried on board. Taking prohibited items like liquid in your bags can delay you from having a relaxed entrance into the departures lounge. During the flight, make sure you drink enough water. And if you’re having alcohol, drink in moderation. During the flight, make sure you get some rest, especially if you have a busy day ahead. Listen to some music, read or watch a film - it’s your time to enjoy yourself.


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A traveller’s home is where the art is Fabrizio Mifsud Soler on how to attract the cultural traveller to our shores. Mr Mifsud Soler is an Arts Executive at the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts.

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apitals of Culture must keep pumping new blood into their systems or else they simply disappear off the maps.

It’s practically impossible to deny the fact that the city of Bilbao was transformed by one building: a 24,000m2 titanium-clad museum by Frank Gehry. A shining beacon of contemporary architecture, the Guggenheim has left an indelible mark on Bilbao, and secured its place on the cultural traveller’s map. Inevitably, with over a million visitors a year since its opening in 1997, it has also boosted the city economically beyond all expectations. This phenomenon, informally known as the Guggenheim Effect, is outlined by Juan Ignacio Vidarte, director of the Bilbao museum, in a 2008 interview with Damian Arnold. Vidarte recounts how in a time of severe unemployment and economic strife, the Basque country regional government went for the less obvious thing to do and spent $100m on a cultural icon, rather than on creating new jobs in the manufacturing industry. Skepticism and controversy were rife but the Basque leap of faith paid off and the Guggenheim had already contributed more than £1.5bn to Spain’s GDP and £260m in tax revenue for the regional government by 2008. It has also helped maintain 4,500 jobs a year. This speaks volumes across the board and unavoidably, almost a dozen similar Guggenheim projects under the wing of Vidarte, now chief officer for global strategies, are in the pipeline. These include a new Guggenheim almost six times larger than the Bilbao one, also designed by Gehry, which is scheduled for a 2013 opening on Saadiyat Island. Saadiyat is a large, low lying island 500 metres off the coast of Abu Dhabi set to become the UAE’s cultural centre by 2018. Currently still in its development phase, Saadiyat will boast the following magnets for the cultural traveller: a Maritime Museum by Tadao Ando, a National Museum by Foster + Partners, the Louvre Abu Dhabi by Jean Nouvel, a Performing Arts Centre by Zaha Hadid, and the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Gehry. That’s probably enough to impress most, and the Emirates, in their trademark style, definitely went all out in their bid to attract the cultural traveller to their shores. If the success story of the Guggenheim Bilbao is anything to go by, then surely nothing less than

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a gargantuan triumph is to be expected from the billions invested in the cultural district of Saadiyat Island. In Europe, since the summer of 1985 when Athens held the first title of European Capital of Culture (then still European City of Culture), a number of cities have used the City of Culture year to their advantage in order to transform their cultural base and in so doing, the way in which they are viewed internationally. The 2004 Palmer study commissioned by the European Culture Commission proved that the choice of European Capital of Culture serves as a catalyst to transform cities and to develop them culturally. Consequently, the socio-economic benefit, just like in the case of the Guggenheim Effect in Bilbao, also leaves a tangible impact on the chosen city. The European Capitals of Culture for 2010 - Pécs, Essen and Istanbul - have maximised their potential for cultural tourism by invigorating and developing the sustainability of their cultural heritage. With new museums and cultural centres being established, and new jobs being created in various fields ranging from media to management, education, design and other creative fields, people living in Capitals of Culture grow to embrace new artistic disciplines and become closely involved in artistic creativity because it is literally all around them. Residents develop a renewed sense of pride in their city and its potential as they rediscover its beauty through the eyes of the cultural traveller, the international art world and members of the foreign media constantly present throughout the year. Hosting the European Capital of Culture is not just about filling the allotted calendar year with appealing events and then letting it fizzle out once the spotlight has moved on. It’s about being able to keep the ball rolling steadily. Just like with the Guggenheim Bilbao, which hosts various world class temporary exhibitions every year in order to keep the museum alive and to re-attract its previous patrons, Capitals of Culture must keep pumping new blood into their systems or else they simply disappear off the maps. Once an infrastructure is steadily in place and an unfaltering audience keeps hungering for more, the possibilities for any city the world over, are endless. It’s just a question of having the right people with the right vision at the helm - the rest are just nuances.




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