VISET Malta plc, operators of the Valletta Waterfront and the Valletta Cruise Terminal, said 2008 has been a record year in four different yet complementary sectors: for the number of cruise passenger arrivals, passengers making use of the ferry services to Sicily, maiden calls by new cruise liners and new companies which set up shop at this distinguished address.
“The performance of the cruise industry sector this year has exceeded all our expectations,” said VISET Chairman Joseph Zammit Tabona, during an end-of-year address to VISET clients and suppliers. “The past year was an exceptional one for cruise tourism in Malta, and we at VISET are at the forefront of this dynamic industry. Our target of reaching half a million passengers has been comfortably exceeded with a total of 540,000 turnout, an increase of some 12 per cent on the previous year.”
The ferry service to Sicily has also achieved good results this year notwithstanding the presence of low cost air transport which could have exerted a negative influence on passenger demand for sea transport, Mr Zammit Tabona said. The service also registered an increase of 12 per cent over last year’s figures, to the credit of the main operator, Virtu Ferries, as well as to the other two operating lines, Motorways of the Seas and Grimaldi.
This year has also been noteworthy for a number of firsts. The Norwegian Gem embarked and disembarked some 12,000 passengers, while MSC Musica, MSC Poesia and the Navigator of the Seas also made their maiden calls, together with the Queen Victoria, which made its debut in Malta with a bang.
“We have also worked hard on the landside part of VISET’s operations, continuing to develop the Valletta Waterfront and getting closer to our vision of a 24/7 destination for cruise passengers, tourists and the Maltese public. This year we must report a number of new companies, with diverse business interests, that have decided to establish their offices in this beautiful destination – taking advantage of the brand name that the Valletta Waterfront has developed.
“It is very gratifying to know that our collective efforts are being recognised abroad. VISET has been presented with two prestigious awards, during the international cruise conference in Miami last March, as one of the most improved port infrastructures and as one of the most improved destinations. These awards have been recently confirmed in another international conference held in Venice where the Port of Valletta was once again confirmed as the best destination in the Mediterranean region. I think we all should be proud of this achievement which augurs well for the future of the tourism sector,” concluded Mr Zammit Tabona.