1. Your work with the MTA is long-standing, throughout
your 25-year career, what positions have you held?
I joined the then National Tourism Organisation Malta in
1997, as an Executive in Marketing, tasked with starting the
Authority’s PR and Marketing activities in Russia.
At the time no one wanted the task, so they gave it to
the new kid on the block. I was then given the additional
responsibility of the UK and Ireland desk, meeting travel
agents, tour operators and journalists from a market which,
at the time, was the source of nearly half of our arrivals. This
was also at the time when NTOM decided to move away
from the Forward Buying Rate (FBR) currency exchange
guarantee program to concentrate on marketing the
After that I headed the hospitality division which was
tasked with hosting foreign media, TV Crew, travel agents
familiarisation trips, tour operator inspection visits and VIP
visitors with bespoke programmes and itineraries.
My experience at the MTA also took me to a three-year
assignment in the Netherlands to manage MTA’s presence
and marketing activity in the Benelex and the Scandinavian
markets. On returning to Malta, after a decision was taken
at the time to close down most of MTA’s overseas offices, I
was first given the task to develop tourism from emerging
geographic markets and niches and later on to Head
the Segment development units and coordinate niche
marketing activity across overseas markets. This was a time
when MTA started focusing on improving the seasonality
spread of tourism arrivals throughout the year and the
accelerated development of secondary and new markets
with the objective of diversification.
Prior to being appointed CEO in June 2022, I occupied the
role of Deputy CEO and Chief Marketing Officer - where
my local and foreign experience definitely proved to be
extremely useful to lead a great marketing team at MTA to
achieve record results for tourism to Malta and Gozo before
the pandemic struck.
2. What were your major priorities when joining the MTA -
do you feel as though you’ve achieved them?
In my teens, in one of my conversations with my father he
advised me to try and choose a career path that will allow
me to enjoy working as much as I would enjoy one of my
hobbies. He also instilled in me a great pride for my country and a mindset to try and do my very best with any task I am assigned. MTA has given me the opportunity to achieve these goals, with a rewarding and very interesting career in the most dynamic of industries where every day is a new challenge to turn into opportunity for Malta and Gozo.
This is something I truly believe in and it is something which I try to pass on to our members of staff locally and abroad - and judging by the great initiatives I see them taking daily, many surely share my vision.
3. How has your journey with the MTA prepared you for
your current role?
Undoubtedly the CEO position at MTA is a role that carries great responsibility especially at this time when the world is seeking to leave behind two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a looming world economic recession on the horizon. My gradual career progression at NTOM/MTA is perhaps the best preparation that anyone can have and supported by a management team, each of them experts in their different areas, I am confident that together with our staff at MTA and stakeholders in the industry we can achieve the targets set out in the 2021-2030 Strategic Plan for Malta’s Tourism Industry.
4. As the CEO at the MTA, what do you feel you will
contribute to the most? What are your goals and targets for
the next coming years?
One of the things which the MTA has worked on, together with the Ministry for Tourism, during the months of the pandemic, was the drafting and subsequent launch of the Malta Tourism Strategy 2021-2030. This strategy is based on three pillars: Recover, Rethink and Revitalise.
As I settle in this new role I intend to have this important document serve as MTA’s guide as it clearly outlines all the improvements needed to further enhance the tourism sector on a holistic level. At the same time it is very important to keep abreast of new trends and in very close contact with industry stakeholders in Malta and abroad.
The Recovery part of the strategy has already started, actually far faster than what was being forecast, catching many airports, airlines and even big hotel chains unprepared.
The Rethink phase is now crucial as together we have the opportunity to redesign Malta’s tourism industry to prepare ourselves to best overcome the challenges ahead with a vibrant dynamic tourism industry that moves away from investing in building new additional bedstock, that would require huge additional visitor volumes to fill, adding further burdens on the islands’ environment and infrastructure, to instead investing in quality attractions, activities and services conducive to yielding higher income into the Maltese economy and a more rewarding stay to the experiential tourist seeking to make beautiful memories on holiday.
My long term target is to achieve the objectives of the Malta Tourism Strategy and together with all partners redesign and deliver a sustainable tourism industry for the Maltese islands, firmly consolidating tourism as one of the key pillars of the Maltese islands economy.
5. What would you say your biggest challenges will be in
your new role as CEO?
This industry is never short of challenges, it is fragile but rebounds quickly. Undoubtedly there are many challenges ahead, many of which we are not able to foresee, like no one saw the impact that COVID-19 would have on our lives, or the effect that the eruption of the Icelandic volcano had on air travel a decade or so ago.
What I am convinced about, however, is that no matter the challenge, and no matter its scale, it can always be positively dealt with, when everyone works together and pulls the same rope.
In the immediate, our focus is to rebuild flight connectivity to Malta and attract a level of tourism all year round that allows profitable tourism activity throughout the year. In sequence and more importantly, beyond these quick wins, my challenge, MTA’s challenge, the Maltese Industry’s challenge as well as that of Government is to rethink and redesign the tourism product, the country we offer to prospective tourists, the country we live in, to achieve a sustainable tourism industry that is a catalyst to a better quality of life for residents and a superior holiday experience for visitors.