Positioning Malta as a Winning Destination

MEDIA ROOM

A consistent message to present Malta to the world must be communicated in order to position the country as a winning destination for both business and tourism, according to ‘Creating the Malta Story’, a foundation document by The Communication Group plc, a London-based PR and lobbying firm.

The document was commissioned on the initiative of Michael Refalo, a former Nationalist Cabinet Minister who also served as Malta’s High Commissioner in the UK.

The report says Malta must be positioned as a brand and that a story about Malta needs to be developed which draws on emotions through powerful storytelling and distinct messaging. It also points out that Malta’s human resources should be united to create a “coalition of the willing” in order to promote the country’s image, and that information about Malta’s competitor markets should be treated as valuable.

The document says public and private sector partnerships should be encouraged and a communication master plan is needed to develop a strategy to deliver Malta’s message.

The purpose of the document is to create a holistic story for Malta’s key audiences – businesses, tourists and talent – and to articulate a set of compelling messages that allow key organisations to promote Malta in the most powerful and consistent way.

The document provides a framework to ensure that Malta realises its ambition to be a globally respected destination of the future. It says a ‘Malta story’ should be agreed on, a framework for its delivery should be created – an organisation and delivery mechanism to champion Malta – and a communication master plan and destination portal be set up.

The “great and good” of Malta’s business and tourism community should come together as an influential group of international ambassadors to champion Malta, according to the report. It says Malta should draw on the experience of successful networks, such as London First, Think London and Visit London, to create an influential Malta-wide organisation with a clear mission, “to make Malta an unparalled place to visit and do business”.

The new organisation – Malta First – would champion Malta’s leading employers across all key sectors, help shape government policy affecting Malta’s business environment, develop practical solutions to Malta’s strategic challenges, promote Malta holistically to business and tourism audiences, share insight and intelligence, shine a light on Malta’s areas of expertise on a global scale and promote Malta’s landmark initiatives.

The report says Malta First would be responsible for key messages and guardianship of the ‘Malta story’, and should be led by an individual with a detailed understanding of the business and tourism agendas and a clear mandate to deliver on a defined set of objectives and a communication master plan.

The document recommends the creation of a “new dynamic website” which would bring together all existing collateral around a single dynamic platform and unite Malta’s key assets to tell the ‘Malta story’. It also suggests the dedication of a special section to Gozo highlighting the island’s special characteristics and attractions.

The website would process investment and tourist enquiries, post video clips of locations, download visitor collateral and showcase Malta’s public and private organisations with the ability to link through to their own websites.

“Malta offers a very unique blend of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ assets but it functions amongst a highly developed competitor set with well defined propositions and offers. To remain competitive there is an opportunity for Malta to take direct and co-ordinated control of its story and message,” it says.

The document evaluates a number of Malta’s competitor destinations across investment and tourism. It identifies the following countries as Malta’s main competitors in business and inward investment: Jersey, Ireland, Singapore, Monaco, Luxembourg and Switzerland. In tourism, Malta’s competitors are identified as Spain, Cyprus, Sicily, Croatia, Morocco and Turkey.

Croatia and Singapore are said to be best practice stand-out destination stories, the former for tourism and the latter for business. All national and regional organisations involved in tourism in Croatia, the report says, have been brought together under a consistent vision and act as a “one-stop shop for tourists”. It points out that communication is at the heart of Singapore’s strategy to develop a strong image as a business location.

It says few destinations have a richness and combination of business and tourism assets as Malta, which has an unbeatable mix of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ assets on offer for investors.

Malta’s ‘hard’ assets are listed as a stable economy, an educated workforce, competitive tax, business and living costs, a modest cost of living, good connections by land, sea and air, a well regulated fast-growing financial centre, EU compliant, English-speaking, an expertise in maritime sector, aircraft maintenance, i-gaming and ICT, an independent parliamentary republic and high quality visitor services.

Its ‘soft’ assets are listed as a warm climate, vibrant cities, quality of life, a safe environment, friendly and engaging people, a unique calendar of events, a stunning landscape, a World Heritage status, iconic historic sites, most southerly European point of the Mediterranean, an exceptional architecture and eclectic art, cuisine and culture.

Some of Malta’s main challenges are identified, such as the need to address concerns about the quality of the infrastructure and traffic congestion, a perceived lack of awareness of Malta’s business credentials, avoiding overlapping or sometimes sending conflicting messages and balancing its strong traditional heritage messages with recent achievements in a contemporary business environment.

It says tourists visiting Malta are impressed and are an invaluable asset in attracting new visitors, and that cultural influences over time have made Malta an authentic, special place. The report points out that Malta’s cosmopolitan lifestyle and stunning coastline coupled with accessibility and warm climate makes Malta an ideal ‘city break’ destination.

In tourism, the report highlights that Malta faces some key challenges, such as altering misconceptions – the country is often associated with the older generation, tackling increased competition from ‘rising stars’ which capture hearts and minds, responding to changing consumer behaviour, and crystallising the Malta story with clarity in a way which appeals to the contemporary tourist.

It says Malta’s unique position at the most southerly point of Europe and within the secure governance of the European Union make it the perfect gateway to Europe, the Middle East, Near East and Africa. “It is safe, sophisticated and stable – the ideal location for those who wish to work or play”.

It adds: “Malta has been a strategically important gateway to the world throughout history and so has a diverse, cultural heritage that gives it a unique character and charm.”

The document was sponsored by the Institute of Financial Services Malta, the Lottery and Gaming Authority, Finance Malta, Smartcity Malta, the Federation of Estate Agents Malta, Malta Enterprise, the Malta Stock Exchange, Visit Malta, the Rent-a-Car Association, the Gozo Business Chamber, Air Malta, Malta International Airport, the Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and the Valletta Waterfront.