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January 2011Conference+Meetings World www.c-mw.net25The Maltese Islands sit at the very heart of the Mediterranean 'cradle of civilisation'. They are also at theheart of European conferencing and incentive meetings. Why meet in Malta?Malta has established itself over thepast 20 years as a conference andincentives destination and haswelcomed numerous multinationalcompanies and their big events includingCoca Cola, Bosch, General Electric,Givenchy, IBM, Johnson and Johnson,Thomas Cook, BP, Opel, Novartis,Microsoft, Toyota, Toshiba and Vodafone.The three main Maltese islands areMalta, Gozo and Comino, although thereare also three smaller uninhabited islands.The population is 400,000 and Malteseand English are official languages.The 7,000 year-long relationship betweenthe Maltese islanders and the variousnationalities that have occupied Malta overthe centuries has created a marriage ofstyles and traditions, resulting in an eclecticculture and warm hospitality. Out of thismix has sprung a lively and creativecommunity of event suppliers and agencies.Accessibility is a key attraction for organiserschoosing Malta for their main event. TheIslands are connected by air in under threehours from most major European destinations. The island's size adds to the internalaccessibility, with short transfer distancesleaving more time for programme activities.Malta's five- and four-star conferencehotels are mostly clustered within walkingdistance of each other. MD of events management agencyUnconventional Malta, Fiona Captur, saysMalta is good value. "Distances are smalland hotels are in clusters so typically youmay save on your transportation budget as,if planned well, everything you need iswithin walking distance."UK Director of the Malta TourismAuthority, Alex Incorvaja agrees: "Easilyaccessible and practical, our unique venuesare great value for money." For those worried about perception andlavish meetings at a time of austerity, Captursays: "Malta is a low-key destination that is notassociated with glamour and this has stood usin good stead." She notes the growing numberof pharma clients that are notoriouslycircumspect in their destination choice.History is likely to play well withprocurement departments when it comes toplaying down the frivolous side of eventsand incentives. Malta has a variety ofhistorical gems available as venues,including the former 16th century hospitalof the Knights of St John, TheEC Meetings dressed the 150m long La Valette Hall in the MCC for one major corporate clientCOUNTRY PROFILE????'Easily accessible andpractical, Malta's uniquevenues are great valuefor money,' says MaltaTourism Director AlexIncorvaja.?200m sports villageSoon to be one of the largest multi-sports facilities in southern Europe,White Rocks Sports and Leisure Villagewill boost Malta's capabilities to hosthigh-level sports events andinternational conferences. Directory and quality sealMalta Tourism Authority (MTA) haslaunched the second, updated edition of its Meet in Maltadirectory. It containstechnical information about localmeetings industry providers includinghotels, DMCs and venues. Buyers canobtain a free copy by logging ontowww.visitmalta.com/mice-press. The MTAis now awarding Destination MarketingCompanies that comply with its newstringent set of criteria a Quality Seal.Quality Assured DMCs are listed on theMTA website www.visitmalta.com/miceukThe GeorgeThe George, a 112-bedroom boutiqueproperty in St Julians, opened in June2010 and offers meetings facilities for140 persons. Kempinski San Lawrenz The Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz onGozo underwent a refurbishment lastyear, with the Spa and Ayurveda gettinga complete facelift.Renzo Piano projectWorld-renowned architect Renzo Pianois to redesign Malta's capital Valletta byreconstructing the city's historic sitesthat were destroyed during the SecondWorld War. The plans include re-buildingthe entrance to the city, a new outdoorperformance venue at the Opera Siteand a new Parliament building. The?80m project is set to be complete by2014 when Malta celebrates 50 yearssince its independence.News in brief...