Malta's major industries include shipping, manufacturing and exports (electronic chips, toys, etc.), and tourism. Other important industries include shipbuilding and maintenance, construction, pharmaceuticals manufacturing, aviation services, and information technology (IT) services. Film production is also a rapidly growing industry in Malta.
Tourism in Malta has grown 16% in the last five years (2008-2013), with record numbers reached across the board, including guest nights, tourist expenditures, and hotel performance. This growth is attributed to increased airline services (especially by low cost airlines such as Ryanair and Easy Jet), strategic marketing efforts, and improved tourism products. Malta is also a major Mediterranean hub for cruise ships, with 600,000 cruise ship passengers visiting in 2012. In 2012, overall tourist arrivals in the country topped 1.4 million: almost four times the population of the country.
Financial services are also a strong industry in Malta, escaping significant damage following 2008-2009 due to a strong regulatory framework, a low level of leverage, and a reliance on the domestic real estate market. Malta's financial sector is currently eight times larger than its economy. Top corporate tax rates are 35%.
Malta's major trading partners include the Germany, France, Greece, Italy, and the UK. Its major import partners include Italy, France, the UK and Germany.
A per capita GDP of $23,200 USD places Malta in the middle of the list of EU countries in terms of affluence. Malta has low unemployment compared to other European countries.
Due to its relatively small size and population, the Maltese economy relies heavily on foreign investment. There are more than 250 foreign-owned export-oriented enterprises in Malta. Malta Enterprise is the national development agency responsible for promoting and facilitating international investment in Malta. Appealing factors for foreign investors include relatively low direct labour costs (30-50% of those in older EU member states), a favourable industrial climate, pro-business policies, and various financial and training assistance programs.
While local and foreign businesses maintain offices in villages throughout the islands, a major concentration of offices and retail businesses can be found in Sliema and St. Julian's. IT firms, including online gambling companies, are also commonly based in Sliema and St. Julian's, where a vibrant resident population of expats provides a consistently large and qualified pool of employees. The country's entertainment district is also found in these areas, with a high concentration of bars, cafes, cinemas, pubs, boutiques, and restaurants.
Sliema & St. Julian's are home to numerous hotels, resorts, and English language schools. These are especially busy during the summer months, and are an important economic driver for the area.
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