MALTA: Quality and Quantity at Hand (Part 2)

Another considerable advantage of the destination is that being a small country, it boasts a high density of attractions in close proximity, conveniently accessible in the space of few hours, thus enabling all family members, regardless the age, to enjoy a full spectrum of various leisure and entertainment treats.

Micallef, explained, "Whether visiting a natural attraction, a mysterious temple, a medieval city, one of many cultural events or an educational experience centre, among other attractions and venues, parents can have their mind at rest that their children will have all the entertainment they can wish for.

[...] And all of this within very short distances, therefore making the most of the holiday time and ensuring a great value return for time and savings."

Bajada also highlighted the easy accessibility to many places of interest in Gozo, representing a great benefit for families wishing to indulge in active holidays.

Apart from outdoor activities and a rich cultural calendar, she exemplified interesting sightseeing locations, highlighting recently restored Citadel and UNESCO Ä gantija Temples, both with interactive visitor centres for an enhanced experience.

Bajada further confirmed that Ministry for Gozo is now engaged in restoring and developing the portfolio of interesting sites to visit.

Elaborating on the rich offer of family attractions and enthusing that the destination is in a complete feast during the summer, Gianfranco Selvaggi, general manager, Marineland, Mediterraneo Marine Park, confirmed that the park's Swim with the Dolphin programme is a highly sought-after experience for the whole family.

He concluded, "New venues and activities are becoming a norm here [in Malta], every year there are new sites to visit and experience."

Agreeing on the expansion of the amusement and edutainment locations, Micaleff pinpointed the interactive, educational yet entertaining science centre Esplora as the latest addition to the bucket of attractions, complementing other not-to-be-missed family hotspots, such as Popeye Village, Malta National Aquarium, Malta Falconry Centre and Malta 5D show, among others.

He also predicted, "Many other events and activities are being planned in the run-up to the Valletta 2018, since 2018 our capital city will be the European Capital of Culture."

A PEACE OF MIND

Except for the availability of many family-focussed amenities and attractions in a destination, safety may represent an important criterion in deciding where the next family holiday will occur.

In this term, Malta fulfils such requirement, as both Micallef and Grech emphasised, the destination's safety is a key incentive for families to travel to Malta.

On top of this, Micallef also mentioned the country's excellent health system and an easy multi-lingual communication, contributes to parents' peace of mind.

With the rise of inbound arrivals by six percent in 2015, EI also highlighted the safety as Malta's differentiating factor, reporting that many travellers perceive the country as a safer alternative during periods of security concerns in other Mediterranean markets.

REACHING THE MENA REGION

With the main feeder markets being the UK, Italy, Germany and France, the destination is yet to be fully discovered by the travellers from the MENA region, including the family segment.

Discussing the promotional initiatives of Malta Tourism Authority, Micallef explained that these are targeted more towards the regions with direct air connectivity with Malta, which plays an important role especially for families travelling with young children.

Although being currently limited to direct flights from Dubai and Tunisia only, the organisation is reviewing the strategy and aims at giving more attention to the MENA region, which generated estimated 10 percent of total tourist arrivals in 2016.

Ministry for Gozo shares similar mindset of exploring the opportunities in MENA region, as Bajada, revealed, "[...] We do believe Gozo has a potential to attract visitors from other source markets such as the MENA region and we are aware of tourism operators who are working in this direction."

With the local travel and tourism stakeholders exploring the options of enhancing attractive facilities in the destination and with the ever expanding global transportation services, Malta has the potential to present its profile beyond Europe and to reach out to the markets where the family holiday planners are ready to discover its rich offerings.