The Malta Tourism Authority and the Malta Football Association signed a three-year agreement thanks to which the Visit Malta will be an official partner of the association. The agreement was signed by MFA President Bjorn Vassallo and MFA Honorary Treasurer Ivan Mizzi, Permanent Secretary within the Ministry for Tourism and Consumer Protection Ronald Mizzi and Malta Tourism Authority Chairman Gavin Gulia.
Visit Malta will be making an investment of €900,000 to be an official partner of the association for the next three years.
Minister for Tourism & Consumer Protection Clayton Bartolo explained “Visit Malta will be paying €200K annually for the next three years to strengthen the advertising abroad thanks to football and the Malta national team.”
“We recognise the importance of investment in infrastructure in order to boost the sports tourism niche and therefore will invest a further €300K to help the MFA as part of its vision for the coming years on which to increase sports tourism which could be key for tourism in Malta.”
MFA President Bjorn Vassallo said that the association was proud that the Malta Tourism Association was associating itself with the national team.
“We are proud that the MTA is associating itself with our national teams and football. This is what the MFA wants to see on a national level – the whole country gives the full backing to what contributes for national pride.”
Vassallo said that the senior national team plays around ten matches every year – at home and abroad, apart from other national selections, including futsal and beach soccer. Therefore it was crucial that Malta receives not only the support on the pitch but also consider the impact and effect our image which is being exposed to so many people and markets which has huge returns.
The MFA President added that thanks to the Malta FA and MFA Sports Plus, sports tourism generates sixty thousand bed nights, especially in shoulder months. He thanked the Ministry for Tourism for establishing a committee which focuses on sports tourism, stressing on the importance that our country stays competitive when foreign teams look for venues for training camps, especially in southern Europe.
The renovation which is currently underway at the MFA Training Grounds should make them top-level facilities.
“We continued to make capital investment despite the pandemic which affected all of us negatively and therefore to have the government’s backing gives us courage and the strength to continue doing so,” said Bjorn Vassallo.
MTA Chairman Gavin Gulia said that in recent years, sports tourism established itself as an important niche in local tourism. He said the signing of this partnership agreement means that the two parties will continue working hand in hand on a project focusing on sports tourism.
“Thanks to this agreement, the MFA will be crucial in increasing the exposure both in local and foreign commitments. The MFA and the players will be our ambassadors locally and abroad. Not because this was not the case before but especially now, the MTA sees the Malta FA and the national team as a better showcase for our country.”
The MTA chairman, congratulated the MFA and the national team for the long-awaited series of positive results, for the improvement and the change in mentality. He concluded by saying that thanks to this agreement, the MTA will support the MFA the national team in obtaining better results for the local game to continue to grow.
Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport & Voluntary Organisations Clifton Grima said that he was honoured to continue witnessing the government supporting sports organisations.
He said that in order to attract such niche tourism, such as sports tourism, investment is important.
“We are investing to improve the product and the infrastructure in order to attract sports tourism. The government and the MFA are currently working together to improve infrastructure which will improve the local product from which not only football will gain, considering the social role of football in the community.
“Sportsmen are ambassadors of Malta. The results they obtain are the result of hard work and sacrifices, not only on the field of play but also behind the scenes. Thanks to all those involved.”
Hon. Grima concluded by saying “Thanks to this, we can make a leap of quality, not only in terms of infrastructure but also on how we market our product.”
Minister for Tourism & Consumer Protection Clayton Bartolo said “The national team was not just participating but winning …. showing the winning mentality we would like to see from our teams. We understand the hard work by the MFA to help football grow and therefore we want to give them an assist to score. “
The Minister for Tourism added that the idea of Malta being a hub for sports was not just a buzz word. He said that following the launch of a scheme worth €1.5 million focusing on sports tourism has attracted a lot of interest from Malta and abroad. He thanked the Malta FA, the Permanent Secretary and the staff at the MTA for full cooperation.
“The MFA Strategy has a clear vision on all this. We aim for higher standards in whatever we do. We aim at holistic growth at all levels. We want to inspire a whole country. Malta is football crazy … an important status in this country. We are glad that we have a proactive association and that the government is ready to support those who have concrete plans in all these aspects,” concluded the MFA President.
“This investment is not just investment for tourism but this investment focuses on sport. Love for football and love for our country are what brings us together. The success of our county does not rest only on economic success. Football can unite us under the red and white flag together with positive results. “
Hon. Bartolo concluded with a final appeal, “Go on the field of play with the winning mentality which makes us proud of being Maltese.”
This agreement between the Malta FA and the Malta Tourism Authority will enable the VisitMalta identity to be visible on Malta National Team, Malta Under-21 National Team and Women’s National Team, therefore joins other brands who have previously teamed-up in this partnership with the Malta Football Association and a sponsorship on the National Team attire, namely Cisk and Jeep.
Photos: Copyright domenic aquilina/Malta FA