News | Wednesday, 08 July 2009

Maltese tourism so far unaffected by swine flu

Charlot Zahra

Tourism stakeholders told Business Today that there has been no reported cancellation of bookings to Malta so far following the emergence of swine flu in Malta last week, as the total number of confirmed surged to 39 yesterday, mostly in Gozo.
Asked whether the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) had received any reports of cancelled bookings to Malta following the swine flu surfacing on the Maltese Islands last Thursday, an MTA spokesperson told Business Today: “The MTA has, to date, not received any reports of cancelled bookings brought about by the emergence of the A H1N1 virus”, although only six days have passed since the emergence of the virus in Malta.
The MTA spokesperson explained how tourist traffic, “the world over”, had been influenced “mostly by the international credit crunch rather than other extenuating circumstances.
“Most other countries in Europe, including those that are renowned as tourism destinations, have reported cases of the A H1N1 virus, to varying degrees,” the MTA spokesperson said, indicating that the outbreak should not deter tourists from coming to Malta this year.
Asked to explain how the MTA was liaising with the public health authorities over the matter, the authority official said: “Malta Tourism Authority will naturally continue to monitor the situation very closely, in consultation with the Health authorities, and take all the necessary measures deemed appropriate as matters unfold.”
One renowned language school in St Julian’s has bolstered its hygiene practices on its premises by offering alcohol-based bacterial hand rubs in every classroom and sending students who looked unwell back to their accommodation.
Moreover, students have been urged to wash their hands regularly.
Malta Hotels’ and Restaurants’ Association (MHRA) Chief Executive Officer George Schembri, which represents hoteliers and restaurateurs, told Business Today yesterday that there had been “no reports” from its members about a decrease in bookings as a result of swine flu.
“Other countries have already experienced the emergence of swine flu without impinging negatively on tourism in the respective countries,” Schembri insisted.
“People have continued travelling despite the emergence of swine flu,” he added.
Schembri explained that swine flu had “the same effect on patients as normal flu, therefore one should not be too concerned about it.” Asked whether there had been any reports of cancellations to and from Malta as a result of the emergence of swine flu, Federated Association of Travel and Tourism Agents – Malta (FATTA) President Iain Tonna said: “As the emergence of swine flu in Malta was only confirmed last Thursday, it is still early to establish whether it had any affect on bookings to and from Malta, and to quantify the number of cancellations, if any,” he told Business Today.
Asked to identify which were those markets and segments which might have been affected as a result of the emergence of swine flu in Malta, Tonna reiterated his position that it was “too early to provide any analysis”.
On the issue of whether the authorities had earmarked any help to those sectors that could be hit negatively, the FATTA President told Business Today: “We have not had any communication from the authorities indicating any assistance to those sectors that may have been most adversely hit.”

Thirty-nine swine flu cases in six days
Ten new cases of swine flu were confirmed by yesterday at noon, eight in Gozo and two in Malta, all involving females of Maltese nationality.
Three new cases were reported in Gharb, involving a 38-year-old woman, an eight-year-old girl and a ten-year-old girl, thus bringing the total number of confirmed cases in this locality to ten.
Another two cases each were reported in the neighbouring Gozitan villages of Xaghra and Ghasri – an 18-year-old woman and a 21-year-old woman were infected in Xaghra, while a 44-year-old woman and an eight-year-old girl were reported as infected in Ghasri.
A 17-year-old girl from Sannat was also reported as infected with swine flu.
The other two cases that were confirmed yesterday involved a 24-year-old woman from Luqa and a 21-year-old woman from Mosta. In both cases, the origins of the infection still had to be determined.
Three more cases were confirmed in Gharb on Monday night – three men aged 18 years, 20 years and 16 years respectively. As with the other cases diagnosed till now in Gharb, all of them were not travel related.
The other two cases that were confirmed on Monday night involved a ten-year-old Australian boy, whose case was travel-related, and a twenty-year-old Swiss girl from Msida, whose case was not travel-related.
On Monday, three people – a 24-year-old woman, and two men, a 22-year-old and a 42-year-old, were diagnosed positive with swine flu after coming in contact during the Gharb village feast last week with a 16-year-old from the same village who was tested positive on Sunday.
Another two Maltese have been registered as suspected cases after they were found to be suffering from influenza type A but not the H1N1 subtype, which was causing the global pandemic after being discovered in Mexico in April.
However, the authorities called on people not to panic, in view of the fact that most of the cases were mild and most of the patients that had been hit with swine flu had recovered.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, Parliamentary Secretary for the elderly and community care Mario Galea insisted that “the symptoms of some of those who are infected are so mild they could not believe they were suffering from H1N1”
The only person who was still being treated in hospital was a 19-year-old London woman, but she was suffering from another condition which precipitated her symptoms and was not symptomatic of most of the patients that have been hit by flu.
Galea also reassured people that it was safe to attend mass activities like today’s Isle of MTV concert.
However, he called on those suffering with symptoms similar to influenza, such as fever, a cough, a blocked or runny nose and a sore throat, to stay at home.

[email protected]




Other News

Brussels forces government to reduce deficit by 2010

Maltese tourism so far unaffected by swine flu

Air Sicilia founder eyes Malta for low-cost airline

World Bank excludes Malta from latest global economic forecasts

Shop owners with mixed feelings over Piano plans

MFSA increases burdens on companies - GRTU

Consumer and Competition Division to be restructured into agency

ECB keeps rates unchanged

MMA investigates collision of Malta registered ship off Copenhagen

IHI announces allotment policy for €35,000,000 6.25% Bonds 2015-2019

Ryanair inaugurates flights from Bristol

Fort Cambridge awards €2.4 million tender for lifts

Air Malta and the Union of Cabin Crew to sign new collective agreement

S&P’s affirms A/A1 credit rating for Malta

No emission tests by ADT since last year

Caught with €52,000 undeclared cash on his way to Malta

The straw that breaks the camel’s back

Julian Zarb: Competition or complementary?

Adjusting ICT standardisation to the realities of the 21st century

The Valletta Project – Time for Decision and Implementation

A guaranteed job with CIMA Certificate in Business Accounting

Bay Street appoints new CEO

Mark Lamb: Refining the Dollar





08 July 2009


Malta Today


Collaborating partners:



Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 07, Malta, Europe Tel. ++356 21382741, Fax: ++356 21385075
Managing Editor: Saviour Balzan