Not many destinations have centuries-long traditions as meeting venues. As early as the 16th century Malta played host to the Knights of Malta, whose architectural legacy provided the island with unique conference venues which today are used by global corporations, intergovernmental organisations and small independent businesses.
Thanks in part to its ideal location, some of the biggest companies and organisations in the world have chosen Malta to rendezvous. The EU, the Commonwealth, Microsoft, IBM, BP, Coca Cola, Toyota, WHO, AIG, HSBC, Lloyds and PwC are just some of the organisations which have availed of Malta’s offering in recent years. The 5th European Public Health Conference in 2012 brought some 1,198 public health professionals from 60 countries to the island, while the Swedish natural cosmetic company Oriflame provided Malta with its biggest conference to date in 2010, hosting some 4,200 representatives. Small niche gatherings combined with these large-scale events all contribute to the over 84,000 delegates who flock to Malta each year.
Malta’s popularity as a destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) is no mystery: the hotels are first-class; the weather is fantastic; access is simple with daily flights from most major cities; prices are competitive with a myriad of high-standard venues readily available.
VENUES WITH AN X-FACTOR
Event organisers can make the most of Malta’s 7,000 year history with its scores of cultural and architectural venues, any of which would be ideal to turn a usually routine occasion into a truly memorable event. A particular favourite is the 16th century Mediterranean Conference Centre, which served as the former hospital of the Knights of St John and can host 1,500 guests at gala dinners or 4,000 visitors at standing receptions. Many of Malta’s magnificent castles, stunning palazzos and impressive forts – some of which have been used as film locations for movies such as ‘The Da Vinci Code’ or ‘Gladiator’, make it easy to add a luxurious atmosphere and special flavour to any function.
For a more contemporary note, available venues include theme parks, marinas, luxury yachts and exclusive sea front properties. Nearly all public spaces can be used for events and launch parties; receptions and dinners have already taken place at beaches, museums and village squares. The Malta Fairs and Conventions Centre (MFCC), located near the ancient walls of Mdina, is by far the country’s largest venue with a capacity of 10,000 people.
THE HOTEL SCENE
Many four- and five-star hotels are able to offer the highest level of accommodation, facilities and services to visiting delegates. Major brands such as Intercontinental, Hilton, Le Meridien, Radisson, Corinthia and Westin all have hotels in the beachfront city of St Julians, giving organisers a choice of modern amenities including meeting rooms, conference facilities and up-to-date technology. The Excelsior Grand Hotel in Valletta or the Palace Hotel in Sliema are both equally well suited for meetings and conferences. The short distances between localities also means that delegates can be accommodated in different hotels, as travel times between towns rarely exceed 15 minutes. Malta International Airport is located less than 30 minutes away from most hotels.
BREAKS WITH A DIFFERENCE
Malta is also closer to your home base than you may think. National carrier Air Malta and many other airlines offer direct flights to the island. Just a three-hour plane ride from London and two to two and a half hours from other major European destinations, Malta offers a Mediterranean climate and glorious scenery that allows plenty of outdoor activities. This means conference and meeting delegates will enjoy every moment of their time on the island. They can visit Malta’s several World Heritage Sites such as megalithic temples and the country’s capital Valletta, dive in the pristine waters surrounding the island or take a ramble across Malta’s countryside. Options for sporting activities and team building exercises are limitless and include tennis, golf and rock climbing, as well as a treasure hunt in the ancient city of Mdina or a jeep safari on Gozo, Malta’s smaller sister island, which is just a 20-minute ferry trip away.
ACTIVE SUPPORT & VALUE FOR MONEY
Malta’s government actively supports business tourism, and the Malta Tourism Authority offers a variety of services designed to help event organisers. The country’s Destination Management Companies (DMCs) are committed to offer excellent services and the MTA issues quality seals to those companies that excel in quality and professionalism. Malta is also excellent value for money, distinguishing the island from its European neighbours. Most smaller venues such as palazzos and hotel ballrooms can be rented for around €2,000 a day, while hotel rates in the off-peak season can be as low as €40 a night.
DIVERSITY THAT SURPRISES
While thousands may flock to Malta for its ideal location and excellent conference facilities, they return for so much more. The country’s compact size allows groups to fit business and pleasure activities into a packed itinerary, and 300 days of sunshine, limitless leisure opportunities and top-class dining are all but guaranteed. A rich historical and cultural environment and the reassurance of a modern infrastructure all combine to cement Malta’s reputation as a choice hub for conferences and seminars; the ideal MICE destination.