Stephen Xuereb

Malta’s cruise sector, just like the tourism and travel sector, suffered severe losses throughout the past year and a half. According to figures published by the National Statistics Office, total cruise passengers for 2020 stood at 59,018, a decrease of 92.3 per cent over 2019.

Speaking during a recent webinar organised by Fenech & Fenech Advocates, Stephen Xuereb, CEO of Valletta Cruise Port and COO of Global Ports Holding plc, says that, looking towards the future, “we are cautiously optimistic”.

“We believe that 2022 will present a good recovery period with bookings for 2023 being at par with those of 2019,” he said, adding, however, that this depended on several factors, including the global vaccination programme.

“As a destination, we need to be agile, able to evolve, adapt to the situation, and quick on our feet.”

The webinar forms part of a series of talks with the maritime industry, where Mr Xuereb spoke about how the pandemic affected port operations in Malta as well as other ports worldwide.

Other guest speakers included Domenico Ferrara, Legal Director of MSC Cruise Management (UK) Ltd who discussed the challenges and effects of the pandemic on the cruise industry, as well as Michael Knauer, CEO of sea chefs Holding AG, who shed light on the crew and operational challenges that the industry faced.

On behalf of Fenech & Fenech Advocates, Mark Fenech, Partner in the Ship Finance Department, discussed the impact of the pandemic on ship financing trends, while Partner in the Marine Litigation Department, Ann Fenech, shared her litigation experiences involving the cruise industry throughout this time.

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