VISET Malta plc and the renowned cruise line MSC Cruises have today signed an agreement covering the next five years which sees MSC Cruises committing itself to include Malta in its itinerary between 2011 and 2015.

During a signing ceremony presided by Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi at the Magazino Hall, Valletta Waterfront, Mr. Pierfrancesco Vago, Chief Executive Officer of MSC Cruises confirmed that next year, the cruise line is committing itself to 150,000 passenger movements in Malta.

This amount represents around a 60% increase on the passenger movements that MSC Cruises registered in Malta in 2008 and a substantial increase on the passenger movements that MSC are expecting to register by the end of this year. It is estimated that each passenger spends about €60 when sightseeing in Malta. This means that MSC passengers, in just one year, will have contributed around €9 million to the Maltese economy.

“We at MSC Cruises are proud of our longstanding links with the Island of Malta. Links that date back to 2002, when our cruises first began visiting this unique island. Malta has a strong maritime tradition and close knowledge of the cruise industry, both of which have always made our work easier. MSC Cruises recognises Malta as a reliable and dynamic partner. We appreciate the potential of this island and praise all the work that has gone into keeping the port infrastructures and waterfront suitable for our New Generation vessels. Which is why we are confirming our presence with 5 ships calling at La Valletta for a total of 34 calls in 2011”, commented Mr. Vago.

VISET p.l.c. Chairman Dr. Anton Micallef held that “The five year commercial agreement concluded with MSC is unprecedented for Viset and for the cruise business in Malta. Viset reiterates its appreciation of MSC’s commitment and trust in Viset as cruise terminal operator and in Maltese service providers servicing the industry. The agreement is a consolidation of the excellent relationship between VISET and MSC Cruises”.

VISET p.l.c. CEO Mr. John Portelli reaffirmed the cruise terminal operator’s optimism for this year’s performance and announced that VISET is expecting to close 2010 with substantially higher total passenger movements when compared to 2009. “2011 is looking positive and barring any unforeseen circumstances, our projections for 2011 are positive and as encouraging as the results for 2010 are revealing” said Mr. Portelli.
 
Last month, cruise passenger movements increased by around 4% over the same month last year.  A total of 58,734 passenger movements were recorded compared to 56,602 in October 2009. This year, VISET Malta is expected to handle its 4 millionth passenger since it started managing the cruise passenger terminal in the port of Valletta.

Commenting on the signing of this agreement Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi highlighted the benefits for Malta’s industry at large. Dr Gonzi added that, “today, MSC Cruises are strengthening their faith in Malta’s potential as one of Europe’s foremost ports of call. It also highlights the importance of regeneration efforts. The rehabilitation of the Valletta waterfront together with the construction of the new cruise liner terminal not only revived the Grand Harbour but has also acted as a main economic driver creating jobs and increased economic activity. Valletta’s current regeneration and vertical connection of the Waterfront area to the centre of City will only enhance the visitor’s experience.  With passenger movements growing at a strong rate, Malta is proving to be a growing port of call in the region. Government will continue to intensify its efforts to promote Malta through further investment in the tourism sector. Our Budget for 2011 gives special focus to tourism and is aimed at Malta’s potential to continue reaping opportunities creating more employment.”

The total passenger movements between January and October 2010 stand at 418,106 compared to 367,067 recorded between January and October 2009, an increase of around 14%. Vessel calls have also increased with 236 cruise ships calling in the Port of Valletta during the first ten months of this year, compared to 218 during the same period last year, representing an  increase of 8.2%.

Research by the European Cruise Council shows that cruise passengers spend an average of €60 each while holidaying in Malta. The same research also confirms the huge importance of the cruise line industry to the Maltese economy with an estimated €250 million having been generated by the industry since 2005.

VISET Malta desires to register its appreciation to the local MSC agents, the Malta Tourism Authority, Air Malta, Malta International Airport and Transport Malta who, together with the Ministry for Tourism, are constructively in partnership with VISET to further develop the cruise sector in Malta.