|Malta's cruise tourism is burgeoning with more cruise ship calls at Valletta.|
The Valletta Cruise Port welcomed the Carnival Cruise Line brand with the arrival of the new Carnival Vista in Malta. The ship was greeted by the lively tunes of a Maltese village band courtesy of the port. In addition, passengers and crew were treated to a historic re-enactment by Inguardia showing events happening during the times of the Knights of St. John, courtesy of the Malta Tourism Authority.
As the Carnival Vista exited the historic Grand Harbour, a gun salute from the saluting battery of the Upper Barrakka Gardens was given courtesy of Mifsud Brothers Ltd. Speaking about the ship's first of seven calls this summer at Malta, Dr. Edward Zammit Lewis, Malta’s minister of tourism, said: “This is a very exciting development and the Maltese islands look forward to enhancing the relationship with Carnival Cruise Line.”
Eighty percent of Carnival's passengers hailing from the United States will help diversify Malta’s cruise line market. "There is no doubt that the cruise market has taken on a critical importance within Malta’s tourism industry," said Lewis. "A substantial number of first time cruise visitor’s return for a longer stay, generating further business for the growing tourism industry.”
In 2015, Malta had a record cruise year with 307 cruise line vessels entering Valletta's Grand Harbour. According to figures published by Malta's National Statistics Office, these vessels carried more than 670,000 passengers, an increase of 30 percent from 2014.
“The trend is continuing," said Lewis. "Malta has just registered an exceptional number of cruise tourists this winter [as] 17 cruise ships called in Malta’s port between January and March 2016, eight more than last year. Nearly 40,000 passengers arrived in Malta in the first quarter of this year, an increase of 90 percent over the same period of 2015.” He also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to increase investment for further growth in the cruise industry.
Meanwhile Stephen Xuereb, CEO, Valletta Cruise Port, said that this year the port will welcome more than 74 calls from Carnival Corporation brands, including not only Carnival Cruise Line but also Costa, AIDA and others. Those visits will bring more than 150,000 passengers to the island nation. The seven calls by Carnival Vista will account for more than 27,000 passengers.
Valletta Cruise Port has just invested approximately $1.7 million in its Forni Terminal to accommodate the increasing passengers flowing in from the industry's larger ships. Xuereb said the port is working on plans to also improve infrastructure on Quays 4 and 5 and towards Lascaris Wharf, which he said is critical to the continued growth of the industry in Valletta.