Marika Caruana Smith / LinkedIn

Marika Caruana Smith, InterContinental Malta Cluster Director of Sales – Luxury & Entertainment, has highlighted Malta’s increased popularity as a holiday destination for US travellers.

Her comments come after she attended Virtuoso Travel Week 2023, an annual global travel community event held in Las Vegas, US, earlier this month. The event is aimed at providing travel advisors the chance to connect with representatives from hotels, cruise lines, tour companies, and destinations to provide clients with greater access to travel experiences.

Speaking to MaltaCEOs.mt, Ms Caruana Smith noted that this year, over 5,000 agents and hoteliers attended from 105 different countries, covering a total of 185,000 meetings.

Marika Caruana Smith / LinkedIn
Marika Caruana Smith at Virtuoso Travel Week 2023 / LinkedIn

“Virtuoso is the leading global network of agencies specialising in luxury and experiential travel, with more than 20,000 advisors,” she said, before explaining that it partners with over 2,200 of the world’s best companies such as hotels, cruise lines, tour operators, and more.

“That is why we as InterContinental Malta feel privileged to be a Virtuoso Hotel for the past 10 years. The Virtuoso advisors use their personal connections and first-hand expertise to craft bespoke trips for clients, including unique experiences, special values, complementary perks, VIP treatment, and rare access,” she said.

Ms Caruana Smith said that one of the key points discussed during the event was that there was an increase of 26 per cent in travel sales when compared to 2019. This is particularly the case through favourite destinations and those that are growing in interest, which have experienced increases in demand and bookings, and she noted that “Malta is one of them”.

“Malta has become known with the US market since we are close to Italy and Sicily, therefore US travellers are combining their European holidays to include Malta for a few nights with Italy or Sicily,” she remarked.

Marika Caruana Smith / LinkedIn
Marika Caruana Smith (right) at Virtuoso Travel Week 2023 / LinkedIn

“We are also seeing an increase from travellers coming to Malta by taking cruises that start and finish from here. One can mention luxury cruise ships like The Ritz-Carlton or Regent Seven Seas Cruises. These attract high-end travellers who are spending nights in Malta pre and post the cruise,” she explained.

Turning to the main leadership lessons learnt from the event, Ms Caruana Smith highlighted the increasing focus on promoting sustainable travel.

“Virtuoso is committed to sustainability and believes that the travel industry can be a powerful catalyst for this in the world,” she said.

“The three Virtuoso pillars of sustainability are: celebrate the culture, support the economy, and protect the planet,” she concluded.

Ms Caruana Smith has over 25 years of hospitality industry and travel experience. She has worked in various director-level roles at InterContinental Malta ever since she joined the St Julian’s hotel in 2018, mainly focusing on the luxury sales area.

Featured Image:

InterContinental Malta Cluster Director of Sales – Luxury & Entertainment Marika Caruana Smith / LinkedIn

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