Malta is fast becoming a world leader in vessel registration, already number one in Europe and number six in the world in terms of vessels registered. Under the guidance of Ivan Sammut, the Registrar of Ships, they do not intend resting on their laurels.
More importantly, with the backing of the enlightened Transport Minister and the government of Malta, the country is determined to rediscover its maritime heritage and resurrect the shipping industry as a whole, and the superyacht sector in particular. This was reinforced earlier this year with the launch of the National Integrated Maritime Policy which aims to develop the various elements of the maritime sector including; Aquaculture, Coastal Tourism, Marine Biotechnology, Ocean Energy, Seabed Mining, Maritime Transport, Maritime Financial Services, Ship Building and Repair, Fisheries and Oil and Gas development. Ambitious – yes, but Malta is an island nation after all.
From the marine transport perspective this is good news and, speaking personally as one who sailed with predominantly Maltese crews in the 70s and 80s, it would be good to have them back! Initiatives are being started to resurrect maritime training, especially engineers. The colleges are gearing up to deliver not only STCW short courses, but also more Certificates of Competency courses. Malta has a natural deep water sheltered harbour, and Camper & Nicholson have created a facility for berthing superyachts that is a pleasure to visit. There are specialist yacht repair facilities and attractive yacht ownership arrangements within a well-regulated financial system. Other support services are also available and, with excellent air links to Europe and beyond, this makes the island accessible all year round.
From an employment perspective, especially for vessels operating within the Mediterranean, an attractive tax and social security system exists – especially when combined with yacht registration and ownership in Malta.
Expertise abounds on the island, as does the will to make improvements; so I would recommend that owners/operators take a look at Malta again – you may be surprised by what you find!