“Malta’s vision is to develop the Island as a leading maritime and yachting hub in the Mediterranean. During the last year the Malta flag registered a record increase of over 14% in the registration of superyachts over 24 metres – thus making the Malta flag, the jurisdiction of choice and one of the leaders in this sector with nearly 600 superyachts registered. Malta’s ship register has grown not only in numbers but also in repute, and today, the country is increasingly adding high-class ships and yachts to its fleet. This is also a result of the good quality of service backed by various initiatives and strategies in favour of the industry offering a holistic package, which is recognised by owners and industry stakeholders worldwide,” said Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Joe Mizzi.
During the opening speech of the fifth edition of the conference on Opportunities in Superyachts Minister Mizzi on behalf of Maritime Malta indicated that Malta’s potential and influence in the yachting sector is being recognised. He added that the success of this conference in our country demonstrates the interest in this niche industry and is indicative of the international positioning that the local industry has managed to achieve.
He referred that being the largest maritime flag in Europe gives us a lot of confidence and drive to replicate that success in the superyacht sector. Particularly, that we want to further develop the yachting cluster where Malta can attract and support the growth of a number of businesses and that at the heart of this cluster we want to further develop a jurisdiction that enjoys the confidence of the operators and respected by the industry.
The Minister said that Malta’s geographical position has always given the island a special strategic importance - be it for trade, war or pleasure.
“Today the Mediterranean region is a popular global tourist destination and provides some of the world’s most fascinating yachting experiences. With the most appealing setting and a comprehensive range of facilities, Malta offers a vast range of services: yards, marinas, surveying and multi-service agencies. This all creates the right environment for the island to become a resourceful service centre for every aspect of the superyachts service industry,” he said.
Emphasizing that a political stable environment, a positive relationship with other EU Member States, a clear commitment to support business development of high added value services, an attractive fiscal regime, a well respected flag, and an efficient administration, create the right environment for this industry to further consolidate and prosper.
“As a Government we are proud to have reacted swiftly, publishing and implementing the Guidelines for VAT applicable for short term charters, thus eliminating uncertainty and making Malta one of the first European countries with a clearly defined policy. We are also proud of being the first jurisdiction to introduce guidelines on the carriage capacity of pleasure yachts to carry more than 12 persons – a policy that was welcomed by the industry.”
Similarly, he added that the inclusion of maritime affairs, including yachting, as a priority area during the current Presidency of the European Council, is a strong statement towards the importance given by our country to this sector. There can be no doubt that the Government considers this specific industry to be crucial for our future economic growth and diversification.
“Malta has done well in building fiscal, legal, and corporate and registration services. While it is imperative that we continue to develop these, it is also time to shift our focus to other offerings which are even more “value added” and strategically important.
“This industry took off on the basis of location, low cost, duty free fuel and fiscal incentives, but has to continue evolving. We must be a stronger alternative, based on capabilities, improved infrastructure, and competence, level of service, reputation and strong relationships. We simply cannot risk becoming comfortable and run the risk of letting our laws, our regulation and our businesses become out of date. The creativity of others is real and exists,” said the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.
He remarked that the benefit of an increased market share and of being one of the largest flag administrations in the world, offers Malta visibility and confidence to venture into new territory. Hence, our next challenge is to support the growth of maritime clusters, providing technical services and ensuring that Malta becomes the obvious choice for superyacht owners and managers for their wintering, maintenance and repairs. Evenly we must also increase our promotion of Malta as a pick up and end destination for charters, and close the gaps in crew training and qualification services.
“Malta is, and shall continue to be, fully supportive of the European Unions’ efforts to develop maritime policy further. We are reinforcing a stronger dialogue with the industry in view of the current Presidency of the European Council. The main objective is to create a better understanding between the policy makers and regulators and the industry stakeholders with the aim of creating more visibility with the policy makers of the benefits of the maritime industry, including yachting, for the EU to continue to prosper. It is indeed for this reason, that next month we shall be hosting a High Level Ministerial Stakeholders Conference focusing on the future strategic direction that Europe should pursue in the years to come in order to ensure that the EU maritime industry remains competitive and sustainable in the future,” he said.
Adding that Malta shall also continue to represent the industry and its issues at international level, Malta had numerous opportunities, at different fora, to make representations to our Mediterranean neighbouring countries, to the Commission, to the Council and at IMO and so they shall seize similar opportunities in the future.
“Our ‘can-do’ approach is what makes Malta unique. Simple, transparent legislation and procedures and access to key decision-makers make Malta the embodiment of ‘small is beautiful’. The best testimony to this is the experience of the major players who have been in Malta for years. I am not saying that there is no room for improvement or that the authorities do not sometime fall short of the client’s expectations. But there is a genuine, open approach to guide and assist owners, managers and captains in the process of regulating them.” he said.
The Minister for Transport and Infrastructure continued that the role as regulator and promoter of the yachting industry is to steer the economy and not to row it and that as we are at a particular juncture in economic transformation he feels confident to say today that we have the right investment climate to position Malta as a key base from where to manage maritime and yachting services and assets.
“I am aware that we need to continue to invest, especially in the education of professionals in the sector. These sectors are based on people and the key to prosper in them is in people. But we have surely come a long way and today we are here to take our efforts to the next stage.” the Minister said.
In conclusion, Malta has achieved a lot and is very well positioned to make a higher leap and reinforce itself as one of the main players in this important industry. The yachting industry presents a real opportunity but also a number of challenges. Challenges, which present themselves both on a micro level for business operators and entrepreneurs in the sector but also for the Government.
The Government is committed to overcome these challenges and to continue supporting initiatives from the private sector that are in line with a reinforced industry which is stronger, more selective and targets a higher level of “value added” and return opportunities.
“ So it is our responsibility, as Government, to support industry initiatives that translate our vision into tangible action. We must take Malta from its position within the industry to an even better one. So while we have our eyes on the future, we already have our feet on the ground, making the future a reality, achieved with continued support and cooperation,” concluded Minister Mizzi.