WHY IT RATES: Malta continues to grow in popularity with tour operators and the meeting will showcase the destination to USTOA board members. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer
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Malta has been selected as the host destination for United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) annual Out-of-Country Board Meeting to take place in Spring 2020. Malta won the bid in a unanimous vote announced by USTOA board chairman, Dana Santucci, vice president, EF Institute for Cultural Exchange.
Turkish Airlines will be the official USTOA Malta Board Meeting air carrier; the global carrier that flies to more destinations and countries than any other airline in the world will provide flights for attendees and a two-day stopover in Istanbul will be included in the event program.
Michelle Buttigieg, Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) representative North America said: “Since MTA rejoined USTOA five years ago, the number of USTOA tour operators who have added Malta to their itineraries and those who are expanding their Malta tour product, has grown from five to more than 30 in 2019. Hosting the USTOA Out-of-Country Board Meeting will provide a great opportunity for the board members to experience for themselves why Malta has become so popular for the North American traveler.”
“USTOA tour operator members, along with the media, have widely recognized that Malta is definitely a country to be seen and heard from,” said Terry Dale, USTOA president and CEO.
“Malta’s proactive presence in the US market is making a huge difference in the minds of tour operators as well as consumers,” added Dale. “The Out-of-Country Board Meeting in Malta will provide all the tour operators with an opportunity to experience first-hand why this hidden gem of the Mediterranean, is definitely trending in the US and Canadian travel market.”
Malta tourism from North America has grown dramatically in the past few years.
In the first quarter of 2019 alone, there was close to a 40 percent increase from just the US market over the same period of the previous year.
In addition to Malta being a safe destination and English-speaking, Buttigieg attributes much of this growing popularity to several factors.
“One is certainly due to the fact that Malta’s capital, Valletta, was named a European Capital of Culture in 2018,” said Buttigieg.
“Another major factor, especially for the North American market, is the expansion and growth of luxury hotels in the past five years both with the well-known chains as well as with the opening of new luxury boutique hotels that were former Palazzos. Malta has focused on a strong consumer promotional push, resulting in major travel consumer media coverage, as well as taking a proactive approach with the travel professionals including USTOA members.”
Turkish Airlines, an associate USTOA member, will be the official host air carrier for the USTOA Out-of-Country Board Meeting in Malta.
“Turkish Airlines provides excellent connections to Malta from its nine US gateways,” said Cenk Ocal, general manager, New York, Turkish Airlines.
“Turkish Airlines has already co-hosted with Malta Tourism Authority a high-level Tour Operator familiarization trip four years ago with great success,” added Ocal. “We are confident that the USTOA Out-of-Country Board Meeting will also yield great results by providing an opportunity for those tour operators who have never been to Malta, to discover the easy access via Turkish Airlines, the diversity of the tourism product and the special attraction that the destination has for American travelers.”
SOURCE: USTOA press release.