P&O Cruises will sail a new Malta-to-Malta itinerary on the P&O Oceana in 2017.

The Minister for Tourism in Malta, Edward Zammit Lewis, explained that this development "is exciting for the tourism sector" and that he looked forward to enhancing further the relationship with P&O.

The Minister remarked that during 2017 over 100,000 passenger movements will be handled through this fly and cruise program on 27 calls, with an extra 10,000 passengers on five more calls. Moreover, additional port calls are planned for 2018.

"It is primarily thanks to such initiatives that Malta’s cruise sector has been successfully evolving and growing from one which was exclusively a port-of-call, to one which now includes home-porting that benefits the Maltese tourism industry in various ways," he said, adding that homeport cruises were important to the economy with pre- and post-stays and more passengers using the airport.

The Minister for Tourism also remarked that the cruise market also breathes new life into the Maltese harbours and assists urban regeneration. 

Malta registered nearly 240,000 cruise passengers during the first half of this year, an increase of 6.2% on 2015. There were 125 port calls between this January and June in the Grand Harbour, 8 more than that recorded in the same months last year. Looking forward, according to projections, Malta will reach arecord of 700,000 passengers this year, up more than 4 percent over last year.

"These results reflect the concerted and co-ordinated drive by all stakeholders, including Valletta Cruise Port, Mifsud Brothers Ltd., the Malta Tourism Authority and the Malta International Airport, to develop our product and promote Malta’s increasing attractiveness and popularity as a leading cruise destination in the Central Mediterranean, in what is a highly competitive market," he said.

"We are proud to be the homeport of choice for P&O Oceana throughout seasons 2017 and 2018. Malta is a vibrant destination and this is reflected in the port of Valletta and all the ongoing activities around the Grand Harbour region and the Capital City. Valletta Cruise Port prides itself of its close collaboration with all cruise lines. Our distinctive capabilities include a central position in the Mediterranean, sound port infrastructure and services, destination attractiveness and a diverse product offering, outstanding service delivery, and more importantly our reliability and flexibility," commented Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port.