The highest number of passengers who have ever entered Malta on board cruise liners is expected to be reached this year. With almost 900,00o passengers, the Chief Executive of the Valletta Cruise Port, Stephen Xuereb, said that 2019 will not only be a record year but will be much better than expected. Interviewed by TVM, Mr Xuereb replied to questions about how much money is being left in the economy by this industry and the prospects for next year.
Malta has established itself firmly as a popular Mediterranean cruise line destination. This year the passenger terminal at the Grand Harbour is expected to reach the highest ever number of passengers.
“We will go over 800,000 passengers and I hazard to guess that it will go up to 900,000. The principle factor was that we had new ships which entered the market which have a larger capacity in terms of passengers, while for the first time since we have been operating, this year we also had three home port operations in the same season.”
This concept involves passengers being brought to Malta by air and starting their one-week cruise from here, and at the end they go back home on another flight from Malta. This type of operation is being done three times a week.
Tui Cruises is operating for eight consecutive weeks every Sunday throughout the whole season. This year the same company is operating every Monday and from 3/4 years ago another home port operation began every Thursday by P&O Cruises.
While confirming that these two companies will continue with home porting for years to come and are considering using larger ships, Mr Xuereb said that negotiations are taking place with two other companies who wish to introduce home porting from Malta.
When it comes to the money which this industry is leaving in the economy, the CEO of Valletta Cruise Port referred to the latest studies by the company.
“We estimate that it is leaving around €100 million in the economy, from which €23 million are coming from direct expenditure from passengers, and the rest, around €76 million, are being spent by the cruise line locally, in others words in terms of products and services.”
Apart from money, another effect mentioned by Mr Xuereb is that the few hours the passengers spend in Malta are enough for them to decide whether to come and spend a longer holiday on the island and possibly encourage others to do so.
“It appears that 60 – 70% are interested in coming back.”
He said that the indications for next year are that growth registered for this year will be retained in 2020.