During the launch of a campaign intended to encourage anyone offering tourist accommodation to obtain the necessary license, the Minister for Tourism Edward Zammit Lewis said that over the past year, 31% of tourists who visited our country were accommodated in private accommodation, including apartments, villas, houses, and farmhouses, as well as host families, also known as Residence B & B.
In order to ensure that tourists who choose this type of accommodation have an appropriate level of service, the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) has undertaken a targeted action plan aimed at this sector.
Over the last year, the Enforcement Directorate within the MTA began to inspect 835 properties in Malta and Gozo, from 2,700 property that are already licensed by the authority as Holiday Furnished Premises (HFPs). This means that 31% licensed properties have been inspected.
These inspections, which in previous years did not take place, although some properties have been licensed more than fifteen years, were conducted to ensure that the places that are licensed for this purpose are really in good condition. This is because it is important that the premises is not only licensed but is being kept up to the required standard.
In addition to licensed premises, the Minister said that the MTA is continuously striving to identify those premises that are being operated as holiday premises without having the required license.
Thus, in the past year, 424 properties in Malta and Gozo featured on booking portals were investigated by the MTA, and the Authority managed to take legal action against 77 operators found operating without a license.
The Tourism Minister said that among the positive measures taken by the Government over the last year was that the income tax on properties that are licensed as holiday premises was reduced from 35% to 15 %. These measures also led to a rise in the number of new applications for licenses which increased last from 315 to 686 - an increase of 118%.
Government is carrying out this exercise so that whilst ensuring that the properties are indeed of a high and appropriate standard, fair competition among all operators in the sector is guaranteed. In this way, as tourist influx rises steadily every year, Malta remains competitive with other countries by offering a better product in the field of accommodation - Minister Zammit Lewis concluded.
Mr Paul Bugeja, Chief Executive of the Malta Tourism Authority, explained how the Authority is working to ensure that anyone operating any type of housing is properly licensed. "In addition to the important work being carried out by the Enforcement Directorate, today we are launching an educational campaign focused on private accommodation. Its main objective is to inform anyone who rents a holiday premises about the benefits of being properly licensed. The campaign also aims to convey the message that we can all do our part by making sure that the property we rent for our own holidays and that we rent out to tourists, is one of quality."