Minister for Tourism Konrad Mizzi addressed the 2019 Euro-Mediterranean Summit on economic and social councils and similar institutions in Barcelona. The summit primarily focused on the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation and SMEs in the Mediterranean region.
In his intervention, Minister Mizzi explained how the tourism industry, being a major contributor to the Mediterranean and Europe’s GDP, is rapidly changing not least through the digitalisation phenomenon, as more and more players in the industry continue to embrace the opportunities it brings about. The internet economy opens opportunities to create richer experiences for visitors and to further enlarge the tourism sector in general, Minister Mizzi said.
Apart from growth, Minister Mizzi remarked that digital technology can, and must be, a catalyst to make the tourism and travel industry more sustainable. This is even more relevant in small countries like Malta, where sustainable tourism is not a matter of choice but of necessity. More importantly, the digitalisation of the sector brings about a level playing field in terms of competing with the bigger players for a wider outreach.
Minister Mizzi drew examples for initiatives being taken to this effect in Malta, including the recent launch of the VisitMalta + mobile app, and other projects incorporating elements of augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
In his intervention Minister Mizzi also touched on wider challenges across the Mediterranean, including illegal immigration and climate change, and stressed on the importance for more cooperation and synergies, especially between Mediterranean countries which normally face common challenges.
The summit was attended by representatives of economic and social councils and similar institutions of the Euromed region, representatives from the Secretariat of Union of the Mediterranean, representatives from EU institutions, and representatives of other international institutions. The event was co-financed by the European Commission.
During this event, Minister Mizzi was accompanied by Mr Ronald Mizzi, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Tourism, and Mr Tony Zahra, President of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association and of the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation. Mr Zahra is also one of Malta’s representatives on the EESC.
During this visit, Minister Konrad Mizzi also held a bilateral meeting with Mr Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee.