Originally from Manchester, Mark Weingard landed in Malta in 2012 via London, Singapore, Bangkok, Lugano and Barcelona. The British serial entrepreneur and philanthropist has been the force behind countless businesses worldwide. Today, he lives in Malta and oversees charitable foundation Inspirasia and luxury hotel brand Iniala, which includes boutique hotel Iniala Harbour House in Valletta.
“I first came to Malta as it seemed a wonderful place filled with opportunity and amazing weather,” recalls Mark, who describes his experience as an expat business leader on the island as a positive one overall. “I find the Maltese people very welcoming to foreigners, and they are very business-like. Doing business here is easy for an expat, although bureaucracy can be an issue. The central Government meets regularly with business leaders and is pro-business,” he maintains.
Expanding on the primary challenges and opportunities of the island as a business destination, Mark considers the main difficulties to be the bureaucratic issues facing development and the lack of strong local government, citing that the local councils have little power. Moreover, he continues, “the Government does not have a strategy for ensuring sustainable tourism living alongside residents.”
Homing in on the issues relating to running a business in Valletta, Mark maintains, “there needs to be a government body enabling the rapid development of a world-class capital city, however anybody should enable development and not stifle it with added layers of bureaucracy. We should be pairing up with other capital cities, ensuring the streets are clean and well-maintained, and that there is not too much noise after 11pm.”
The opportunities, meanwhile, are many. “Valletta is still a hidden jewel that is full of character. The Maltese people are hard-working and caring. The capital city, if managed correctly, can be one of the nicest capital cities in the world,” he says.
Sharing his outlook on local business and economic sentiment, Mark focuses primarily on hospitality, stating, “there is too much three- and four-star hotel development in St Julian’s and other touristic areas of Malta, and too many Airbnbs, and this will lead to oversupply and overcrowding. We also are still lacking in schools for expats coming to the country. However, Malta is moving upmarket, with 200 new luxury rooms coming to the market in the next three to four years, and this will lead to the development of the luxury sector. We need to focus on quality and not quantity, for the benefit of those who live here and those who come here.”
Finally, his message to fellow expats who are exploring the possibility of investing in the island is an encouraging one: “Come and invest. Malta is historic, beautiful and sunny, and the people are amazing.”
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