Monday, 14 October, 2013

No signs of stopping at red for Malta.

Debutesq, an online guide to luxury Europe including yacht charter, luxury travel, exclusive properties, jet charter, exotic cars and lifestyle, discusses Malta's potential to become a leading maritime centre. To read the published article, please click here.

Malta has undoubtedly the potential to become a leading maritime centre in the Mediterranean and is determined to do just that. Indeed, Malta is currently the largest flag in the EU and boasts favour with the majority of ports around the world.

With its natural ports and traditional culture, Malta already caters for an ever-increasing workforce either working directly in the maritime industry or in jobs dependent on it. The numbers currently stand at approximately 500, but this is an area of steady growth.

The island is well placed to welcome many more yachts and associated services. In common with any growing maritime industry marinas, refit and repair, registration, finance, legal and corporate services, marine surveyors, service agents, management companies, chandlery, supplies companies and yacht brokers will undoubtedly increase in numbers. Reliable and reputable services are already in place and have been established for quite a while.

"This country boasts political stability, a well-respected flag, a robust legislative framework and an efficient administration," comments Dr Geraldine Spiteri who is the incoming Director - Marine and Aviation at Vistra and who grew up, studied and worked on the island before embarking on her global career. Vistra is a global independent provider of trust, fiduciary, corporate and fund services delivering personal and tailored solutions to international corporations, institutional investors and high net worth individuals and their families. The group has a global presence of 29 offices around the world, and employes over 600 employees; the Malta office employs 13 Maltese staff, a number which is constantly on the increase. Vistra's Marine and Aviation Department has just relocated from Jersey to Malta under the direction of Dr Geraldine Spiteri, with the support and assistance of the Jersey office. The aim is to retain the global spirit of the business, while providing all the advantages of a Maltese presence. The Government of Malta is firmly committed to ensuring that yacht owners view Malta as a highly respectable jurisdiction in fields which although not directly related to yachting are equally important to them such as corporate, legal and financial services.

Policy and regulation have also been developed wisely. From the very first days in office, the Government expressed a clear vision that they intend to continue improving the sector. Initiatives to support further growth of the superyacht industry in Malta have already been taken - such as, for example, the clarification to the VAT treatment of short-term yacht charters and the launching of a Global Residence Programme.

It is important to understand the needs of this industry which include good air connections, state-of-the-art telecoms and high-speed broad band and satellite communications. Government intends to involve stakeholders to clearly understand their needs, and finally take appropriate action.

The Government is committed to attracting even more investment in maritime training, with the possibility of creating a maritime academy with internationally-recognised accreditations. Currently, there already exists a maritime training centre which trains seafarers to international standards, ranging from the basic seafaring qualifications to those of Chief Mate and Master Mariner. The Superyachting industry has slightly different needs and this development would thus ensure that those opting for a career on superyachts receive all the specific training to enable them to succeed. All this being planned in terms of Malta's commitment to become a centre of excellence for the training of seafarers working on-board superyachts.

To ensure the right infrastructure is in place, the authorities are committed to identifying zones that can be transformed and developed, through projects like 'Port il-Kbir' (Grand Harbour). Earlier this year, the Government issued invitations for expressions of internest for the development of a maritime hub on the site of the former Marsa shipbuilding yard, which were also widely responded to by both current service providers as well as newcomers into the industry.

Another top priority is to maintain Malta's well-deserved reputation as a serious regulatory authority and to continue to offer an added-value service to partners. This will be crucial so as to continue to benefit from the industry's experience in the sector and building up a greater involvement for the country.

The objective of this administration is to reduce bureaucracy and red tape, while maintaining the necessary balance to ensure that the aims of safety and of protecting the environment are sustained, in line with the IMO's slogan: "Safer Shipping on Cleaner Oceans", which should also extend to superyachts that are also regulated by international conventions on the subject. During a recent event in Malta dedicated to the superyacht industry, mention was made of the importance of branding Malta as a leading jurisdiction in the sector. This can only be done if the flag maintains the respect it currently has for properly implementing and enforcing these conventions, while maintaining the necessary flexibility in order to retain business.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Joe Mizzi and Transport Malta CEO James Piscopo were present at the Monaco Yacht Show held in Port Hercule at the end of September 2013, to promote Malta as the Flag of choice for precious assets such as superyachts. This show is considered the most prestigious pleasure boat show in the world and exhibitors included some 500 major comanies involved in luxury yachting and 100 superyachts afloat.

With a record attendance of 33,000 professional and private visitors at the 2012 edition, the MYS is the long-awaited superyachting meeting of the year for prestigious brands, allowing them to meet the most important international clientele.

Malta's increasing presence in worldwide superyacht registration was recognised through Transport Malta's participation at the Monaco Yacht Show. Exhibiting with a stand branded Maritime Malta, it was the ideal promotional platform to showcase Maritime Malta as an international yachting service centre.

This further reinforced Malta's ever-increasing presence in the worldwide superyacht industry, its recognition as the largest ship register in Europe and a popular yachting destination in the Mediterranean.

The Maltese delegation participated in a number of networking events and addressed the Sea Changes Seminar organised by the Professional Yachtsmen Association. This served as a good opportunity for Malta to provide an overview of the services it can provide to the yachting industry as a whole in an international setting.

In July Malta established the National Integrated Maritime Strategy Committee, the committee's mandate being to develop, monitor and evaluate the implementation process of a national integrated maritime policy. An integrated and coherent approach will help to instigate the potential of Malta's maritime sector and encourage the creation of quality jobs and economic blue growth.

The Maltese have all the necessary skills in place to build upon an already impressive maritime history and cater for some of the world's largest yachts. There is absolutely no doubt this relatively small island wil become a hot spot for superyachts in the Mediterranean. Its ideal geographic location only serves to enhance this.

The Maltese superyacht industry has all the skills in place. Their challenge now is to build and expand upon it, together with the private sector, in order to promote the niche that will surely contribute towards developing Malta as an excellent, leading maritime centre in the Mediterranean.