Pierre Fenech

Pierre Fenech

Executive Director at the Institute for Tourism Studies

Tourism / Malta

“Malta is a center of excellence in the Mediterranean for hospitality and tourism studies”

CEO Pierre Fenech discusses the combined strength of partnering with the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management and pioneering new courses such as the first of its kind, Diving and Medicine BSC.

Why did Malta create the ITS?
The ITS was formed because there were no trained people from Malta and there was a need for proper training for Maltese youngsters, including myself. At the beginning of this journey the industry was run by foreigners, with Maltese workers on the front line. Today we have an inverse situation where most of the industry is run by our alumni students and foreign staff are on the front line. Many of our alumni are now running businesses here in Malta and all over the world and are able to offer internship activities abroad for our current students.

What recent progress has the ITS made?
Malta has become a center of excellence in the Mediterranean for hospitality and tourism studies. We want to partner with the best institutions. This is how our partnership with the Emirates Academy came about because it’s one of the top 10 institutions in the world. In 2017 we signed agreements with Paul Bacchus and we started our first level 6 bachelor’s degrees, one in culinary arts and the other in international hospitality management. The programs are strong, the intake is very good and the feedback we are receiving is that the students are top level. At the same time, we started discussing with the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management to launch an MBA. The MBA we have now launched has the added value that it is a European framework qualification master’s degree.

“Today, services employ 350,000 people in a nation of 1.2 million and the government is now committed to consolidating our competitive advantages.” – Charles Cartier, Chairman of the Economic Development Board

In addition, diving is one of our niche markets, Malta is considered second only to the red sea as a dive location. ITS have a campus in Gozo which is an internationally renowned dive location, so we will start the international school for diving and medicine in partnership with DAN Europe. This is a BSC that will commence in October. This is the first in the world, there is no other degree like it. We have faculty members from all over the world and are going to pull all the available resources together to offer this very high-level degree. Furthermore, we have more to come that is still in the pipeline, for example we are going to offer diplomas in sustainable tourism, and we will also be pioneers in this field.

What factors have led to your success and position as an educational pioneer?
We have gathered vast experience over the years from building such an industry from scratch. This gives us credibility when it comes to dealing with people overseas as we are looked at with a certain level of respect. The other aspect is our geographical location, we are in the middle of the Mediterranean, within easy reach of all European countries, Africa and the Middle East. In addition, we are a very safe country which is appealing to families who want to send students abroad to study and importantly, we are open to change. As a company we are not ridged when it comes to the way we operate or the way we think. Being a small nation, we have had to adapt and change to the point that it is now part of our DNA. Our partners say it’s so easy to work with us because we are so quick to react, I think the whole country is like that.

Is it fair to say Malta acts as a cultural bridge between Europe and MENA?
Yes, because we tend to understand different cultures very well, throughout our history we have lived with many different colonial groups and so we tend to understand everybody. ITS are a good example of this with our strong partnership with the Emirates Academy.

What are the cultural benefits of hosting overseas students at ITS?
We have over 25% of our cohort from 39 different countries and the experience they are getting here is not only Maltese, its Mediterranean and European. They will be taking this experience back to their countries and benefiting from it in the long term. The Mediterranean cuisine is very popular all over the world and we are looking to bring this to our students in a specific course.

What is your message to the World Expo 2020 about the significance of tourism?
I always say, tourism is the catalyst for peace and through tourism we can bring people together and I really believe that. People come together to understand our differences, experience and enjoy different cultures. The world has many conflicts but where tourism flourishes there is peace and when there is no peace tourism suffers, so the two go hand in hand.