Recent reports that the Government is putting a freeze on large projects financed entirely by national funds, including the planned construction of a new building to house the Institute for Tourism Studies in Smart City (ITS), have drawn the ire of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association (MHRA), which has responded by telling authorities that “continuous investment in tourism is not optional”.

Referencing the tourism sector’s cumulative contribution to Malta’s economy, estimated to be around 25 per cent, the MHRA said it is important that investment in the sector is safeguarded, arguing that it is vital to “ensure that our economy remains sustainable”.

While acknowledging the Government’s challenges to save on expenditure as it continues to subsidise electricity and fuel costs, the lobby group said the country needs ”more investment in marketing, infrastructure, public cleanliness and maintenance, training and education, including the new ITS campus”.

“Tourism for the Maltese economy remains a very critical sector and we cannot afford that any international economic dynamic impacts negatively the further sustainable development of what is our economic lifeblood,” it said.

The ITS is currently located in Luqa’s Aviation Park, after the previous site overlooking Paceville’s St George’s Bay was privatised in a controversial deal with db Group.

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