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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 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 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... Conference+Meetings WorldJanuary 2011COUNTRY FOCUSMediterranean Conference Centre (MCC). It offers a theatre seating 2,000 and morethan a touch of baroque splendour. MCCChairman Dr Peter Fenech says the venueattracted over 35,000 delegates last year.The Malta Fairs and Conventions Centreis the largest venue in Malta with a pillar-free space of 7,000sqm able toaccommodate up to 10,000 seated and22,000 standing beneath the tension fabricstructure formerly used to cover WembleyArena in London. Malta has 15 five-star hotels which offer over 7,000 beds. The chains are well represented, including Hilton,Radisson, InterContinental, Le Meridien,Kempinski, Westin, as well as Malta's ownCorinthia Hotels International. For those searching for smaller, boutiqueproperties, there is the Palazzo Capua inSliema and the Xara Palace, a Relais etChateaux independent boutique hotel in themedieval walled city of Mdina. There are also 41 four-star hotels on theisland, providing an additional 14,000 beds.Captur adds: "Malta has a historyspeckled with quite a few key moments thathave left their mark on its people. As aresult, the range of venues Malta has tooffer goes right across the spectrum, fromunique ancient locations, to the Hilton'sstate-of-the-art conference centre which sitsright on the Mediterranean. There issomething for everyone. Old and new.Traditional or trendy." Malta's Mediterranean climate is a bigdraw for organisers, especially its mild winters.When it's cold in Europe and NorthAmerica in November, Malta can offer arange of outdoor activities, on land and onsea, dining under the stars or treasurehunting underwater.A final word of cautionary advice fromCaptur: "Perhaps the one thing thatplanners tend not to expect is just howquickly word gets around in Malta,something to bear in mind especially whennegotiating prices. We all talk to each otherso we all know exactly what everybody is upto. Clients included!" Captur's companyworks in partnership with the Ovation agencyas "a local nose on the ground."We know what venues are in, where a newbuilding site is about to appear, what propertyis changing hands and where the trendiestspot is. These are the angles that anybodybooking services direct will definitely miss".DMC in Malta: EC MeetingsPCO in Germany: CITSClient: Suzuki International Europe(Deutschland Dealer Network)Delegates: 600Type of event: Incentive and dealerconferenceVenue hotels: Hilton (main) andIntercontinental THURSDAY 21 OCTOBER 2010: .The group arrived on four differentflights from Germany and the earlyarrivals were taken on a harbour cruisewith lunch. .All other arrivals transferred directly tothe Exhibition Hall where hotel check inand registration was arranged..The meeting proper started in RepublicHall, including the presentation of thenew Suzuki Kizhasi. .The group then transferred toMontekristo where they enjoyed a standup dinner, with eight food stalls and barson the Piazza. Strolling musicians keptthe clients and the group was transferredby coach back to the hotels. FRIDAY 22 OCTOBER 2010: .After breakfast the groups were splitinto four for a day of tours. .Activities included a walk through Rabatand a trip to Malta's ancient capitalMdina; a transfer to Qormi for lunch atRazzet L-Antik and then a tour of thecapital Valletta; a visit to Upper BarraccaGardens, St. John's Co-Cathedral..One group sailed by wooden sailinggullets from the Hilton up Malta'scoastline to the sister island of Gozo.On arrival, the clients had a 4x4 islandtour before returning to the Hilton viathe Blue Lagoon on speedboats. .In the evening the whole group tookover six top restaurants, all withinwalking distance of the Hilton andIntercontinental hotels. Many went onto sample the local nightlife. SATURDAY 23 OCTOBER 2010: On Saturday, the tours were mixed anddelegates had a chance to sample theexperiences they had missed on the Friday.The group departed on the Sunday.Case study: Suzuki GermanySun, sea, sand and incentives in MaltaDid you know.... Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke ofEdinburgh lived in Malta on and offbetween 1949 and 1951.. The Maltese Islands have threeUNESCO World Heritage listings:the city of Valletta, the Hypogeumand seven megalithic temples. . Ggantija Temples outside thevillage of Xaghra are the oldestfree-standing structures in theworld dating back to 3600 BC. Thetemples, a UNESCO World HeritageSite are one of the earliest knownmeeting places (for rituals). . In WW2 the island fortress of Maltaheld out against enemy attack untilAugust 1944. The people of Maltaare the only people awarded theGeorge Cross collectively as anation. The George Cross is woveninto the Flag of Malta.. The Maltese eight-pointed cross isthe symbol of the Order of theKnights of St John. . Sweden's Oriflame Cosmeticscompany held the largest everconvention in Malta in August2010. Organised by the On SiteMalta agency, it drew 4,200delegates.