A deal that aims to bring over thousands of Chinese visitors every year involves no payment obligations on the part of the Maltese government, according to the Malta Tourism Authority.
The agreement between the MTA and the Chinese government was concluded not long before the last election.
Industry sources said the plan is to have about 10,000 Chinese tourists visiting Malta over the next two years.
The deal, the sources added, involved financial incentives linked to the number of tourists who make the trip.
Asked whether the government would be making any payments in connection with the agreement, a spokesman for the MTA insisted no such obligation existed.
“In one of the deals signed with the Bank of China, there are no contractual payment obligations to be made,” the spokesman said.
“Through this deal, Bank of China premium card holders visiting Malta will be receiving a Heritage Malta membership card allowing free admission to select Heritage Malta sites,” he added. The spokesman explained that, in return, the Bank of China would promote the Maltese islands among 15 million premium clients and also via the social media and events held across the country.
A related agreement was also signed with Chinese tour operator CAISSA, the main company responsible for China-Europe travel.
The deal is in the form of a three-year joint marketing plan promoting the Maltese islands to the Chinese travel trade and public via a range of tourism public relations and advertising channels.
The MTA spokesman said this was the same kind of marketing agreement the tourism regulator struck with tour operators in Europe and around the world.
The tourism agreement between Malta and China was first announced by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat during his Budget speech in 2016.
He said a memorandum of understanding had been signed that should result in 10,000 tourists visiting Malta by 2018 and 50,000 by 2020.