top of page
seafood platter

Industry Human Reources

Strategy 19.

To improve the sector’s attractiveness as an employer through enhanced continuous staff training opportunities and the improvement of its wage-attractiveness relative to competing sectors.


This measure of tourism employment is obviously limited to employment in the core functions of accommodation and catering and does not take into consideration other direct and indirect tourismrelated employment in fields such as transport, retail, entertainment, visitor attractions, guiding, education and food production amongst others.

A 2015 study by Gordon Cordina on “The Contribution of the Tourism Industry to the Maltese Economy” analyses tourism expenditure to derive an estimate of how many jobs can be directly and indirectly associated with tourism spend. Cordina estimates that in 2014, tourism expenditure was estimated to directly sustain around 20,500 jobs in the Maltese economy with a further, significant, 7,000 more jobs being sustained by tourism expenditure in the wholesale and retail trade sector. The resulting 27,500 jobs constituted around 1 in every 7 full time equivalent jobs in the Maltese economy in 2014, which, as is to be expected, presents a higher number of employees than those in the NSO statistics, limited as they are to accommodation and food services.

Tourism’s attractiveness in the Maltese Labour Market
Tourism’s attractiveness, or the lack thereof, is often the main reason attributed to the difficulties being encountered by the tourism industry in attracting the required quality and quantity of employees necessary in the sustained growth scenario being experienced by the industry at present.

In 2015 the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association published an EU-funded study titled Attracting and Retaining Skilled Workers in Hotels and Restaurants. The study was motivated by a combination of factors namely the growth in tourism activity, the decline in sectoral wage relativity, the rise of the non-Maltese tourism workforce and the decline of the domestic employee together with the perceived failure of the Maltese tourism industry either to attract adequate quantities of skilled newcomers or even retain those newcomers before losing them to other sectors.

The study provides some interesting findings, foremost amongst which one may list the perception-gap
prevailing between those who are already employed and those outside the industry. Those already working in tourism broadly consider their job to be prestigious, permanent and one that provides promising career opportunities. However, for those outside the sector, the idea of a career in hospitality garners very low appreciation due to it being perceived as underpaid and a job in which one would not be proud to work in.

In response to questions on which alternative sectors they would prefer to hospitality, respondents listed education, gaming and retail before tourism.

A further analysis presented in the study covered wage relativity with the main conclusion being that the tourism sector is failing to keep in step with alternative economic sectors with respect to wage levels. This has naturally led to a severely diminished wage relativity with signs of recovery not very encouraging. This is leading to a situation where Maltese job seekers are preferring to seek employment elsewhere rather than in the accommodation and catering sectors. In conclusion, the report proposes actions based on the three fundamental principles of Measuring, Planning and Acting to achieve the necessary shifts and start reversing the negative factors identified in the study.

Tourism employment, as traditionally measured, is obviously not growing in a way which reflects the
uninterrupted, exponential growth which Maltese tourism has experienced, and has continued to
experience, since 2009. This anomaly can neither be totally explained through the casual employment of individuals through the black economy nor through the increased efficiency of tourism operations which are becoming less labour intensive and thus employ less employees per tourist hosted.

The answer to this dilemma also lies in the fact that tourism has changed a lot and will continue to change.

The accurately defined and exclusive tourism industry of yesteryear with employment clearly slotted into distinct, easily-defined, self-contained areas such as accommodation, catering, transport, passenger handling and guiding has now evolved into something more diffused and cross-sectoral.
The growth of the sharing economy and the constantly evolving demands of experiential tourism are
diffusing tourism employment into a wide range of areas which, in turn, overlap with other sectors
including expatriate gaming sector workers, the expanding migrant worker community and the increased demand for domestic tourism experiences by Maltese residents amongst others.

Educational tourism, active tourism, gastronomic tourism, film tourism, agro-tourism, eco-tourism,
extreme tourism, wedding and honeymoon tourism, music-party tourism, wellness and health tourism are but a few of the new streams of tourism demand which are seeing the industry evolve beyond recognition in terms of what and where it was only ten years ago.

This situation poses some new challenges. In many respects Malta now faces a tourism employment
situation with a weak nucleus of traditional jobs surrounded by a strong and growing outer shell of
emerging job types. Whilst the outer shell is thriving and expanding, the all-important nucleus is stagnant at best and in decline at worst. This poses some serious questions for the Maltese tourism industry’s core component of suppliers who cannot afford to outcompete themselves from the Maltese labour market to depend even more heavily on influxes of less trained, non-native workers with the inherent impact which that situation would have on the Maltese hospitality offer as extended by the industry’s front liners.

Malta’s Tourism Policy extending to 2020 and based on a Vision to 2030 had listed a number policy
responses in terms of employment in the tourism industry which are based “on the recognized need for
a trained cordial, informed, motivated and committed tourism labour force, which is recognized to be a
main resource to communicate and actually provide quality to visitors.” These responses as summarised
in the Policy document include the improvement of the quality of tourism jobs across the sector, the need for training for the provision of quality service, the necessity for continuous professional development and the need to introduce a level of basic training as a bare minimum to work in tourism. Such basic pretraining should also be followed by appropriate induction courses. Given the growth of off-peak tourism there is also a need to encourage a shift from part-time to full-time employment. There is a recognized need to attract more Maltese workers whilst also inculcating a sense of Maltese hospitality amongst the foreign front-liners. All employees should also possess a stronger awareness of Maltese history and culture which they should be able to pass on to visitors.

As tourism diffuses and merges with other sectors of the Maltese economy, its capacity to attract a steady flow of skilled professionals may become increasingly jeopardized. Maltese tourism is operating in a highly competitive labour market facing manpower shortages and more attractive alternatives both in terms of remuneration and in terms of working hours.

Tourism is ultimately based on service and hospitality and no amount of infrastructural improvement and technology-induced automation can ever replace the basic requirement of human interaction which the hospitality industry is built upon. This is especially true in the collective accommodation and food and beverage spheres which are the ones already facing staffing challenges.


The megatrends out there and the local economic indicators all point towards a tourism industry which
still possesses untapped growth prospects to be exploited in years to come. Adequate volumes of trained, professional human resources are indispensable to make such growth possible.


This Strategy recognizes the importance of the Human Resource element as an essential component
of the delivery of the Hospitality Experience and addresses the challenges being faced by the Tourism
Industry in attracting, sourcing, continually developing and nurturing a cohort of long-term, service
professionals for the delivery of a quality tourism experience to tourists visiting Malta. It seeks to work out with the relevant stakeholders to understand and address these challenges through a set of determined actions aimed reversing the current situation.

Goals and Actions

Identify needs and skills gaps and human resource shortfalls for the different categories of
tourism service provision including accommodation, catering, travel services, guiding and
transportation amongst others.



Action 1.  Design and execute surveys in conjunction with individual stakeholders.

Action 2.  Use results as inputs to Skills Card initiative being pioneered by ITS.


Survey existing tourism sector employees to build a profile of their characteristics including qualifications and/or experience, formal and informal training received, job satisfaction, mobility, remuneration and their views on tourism as a career in Malta.




Action 1.  Undertake in-depth interviews with existing employees to extract required information.

Action 2.  Use results as inputs to Skills Card initiative being pioneered by ITS.


Generate a profile of imported tourism labour force in terms of country of origin, trainingand skills available and nature of work undertaken.



Action 1.  Work with companies to collate sensitive aggregate data from a generally survey-shy sector.

Action 2.  Devise a platform in conjunction with ITS wherein applicants will be assessed before departing from country of origin.


Survey a cross-section of new labour-market entrants and job seekers to evaluate theirattitude towards a career in tourism.



Action 1.  Collaborate with Jobs Plus to research random representative samples of these two cohorts in an aggregated manner.



Carry out campaigns with the private sector to promote careers in tourism, promotethe opportunities and rewarding aspects of working in the industry. Promote the socio-economic benefits of the tourism sector to the country.



Action 1.  Utilise the direction forthcoming from Goals 1-4 to formulate the campaigns listed in Goal 5.


Use results from Goals 1 to 4 to formulate an HR Plan for Tourism in conjunction with ITS andother relevant educational organisations and institutions.



Action 1.  Generate a Holistic Tourism HR Plan for Malta.


Execute sectoral HR Plan with Stakeholders including ITS, MHRA, ACE, MUTG, FATTA, DMCD,GTA, Chamber of SMEs, Malta Chamber and Jobs Plus.



Action 1.  Follow up on the findings of Goal 5 through specific, dedicated actions with the relevant, different stakeholder groupings concerned.


Undertake repeat waves of Studies in Goals 1-4 in 2026 and 2029 to monitor developments,changes and emerging issues.



Action 1.  Use the methodologies and findings of the first wave of studies carried as per Goal 1-4 for repeat waves in 2026 and 2029.

bottom of page