Tourism minister mum on concert sponsorships, complimentary ticket distribution

No accountability on millions in sponsorships


Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo has failed to divulge how many free tickets to big concerts his ministry and the Malta Tourism Authority receive from events organisers that use public funds to host huge concerts such as the recent Robbie Williams or Andre Rieu shows at The Granaries and how these tickets are then distributed.

Through the Malta Tourism Authority, the government enters into multi-million-euro sponsorship deals with a tight-knit group of event organisation companies to bring big-name entertainers to the country. These deals are conducted with limited transparency and without any regulatory framework in place.

While government sponsorship of events is necessary to cover the costs, how they are awarded, what the government gets in return, and how these ‘benefits’ are used is not transparent.

The event organisers that receive public funds through sponsorships send hundreds of complimentary tickets to the government, particularly Bartolo’s ministry and the Malta Tourism Authority. These tickets are then distributed among employees and constituents.

Nationalist Party MP Mark Anthony Sammut asked Bartolo to inform parliament how many complimentary tickets for the latest Robbie Williams and Andre Rieu concerts were received and distributed, but Bartolo did not respond.

The Robbie Williams concert was held a few weeks ago in Floriana

He also did not provide information on who received free tickets, stating they were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis “to many who ask for them” and according to “how the stakeholders deem fit.”

Entertainment industry sources told The Shift that while it is impossible to hold such big concerts without public funds, mainly due to high artist and agent fees, it is common knowledge that significant numbers of free tickets are dished out.

The Shift is also informed that most of the free tickets are being distributed by the ministry, either to the minister’s constituents or to close political acquaintances across other government departments and agencies.

Those without contacts or not willing to ‘beg’ are forced to pay, sometimes, hundreds of euros to get their hands on a ticket.

Government sponsorships are not regulated and, in many cases, depend on the level of friendship between government ministers and the private organisers.

So far, it is not yet known how much money the government paid to facilitate the Robbie Williams concert, organised by former Nationalist Party (PN) mass events gurus Mark Grech and Anton Attard or the Andre Rieu concert, organised by TEC – a company owned by Carmelo Magro which also takes care of the Labour Party mass events.

PN MP Mario De Marco also asked Bartolo to give parliament a list of the companies that benefitted from public funds for concert sponsorships in 2022.

According to the latest MTA annual report, €56 million was spent in 2022 on such sponsorships, camouflaged as ‘marketing’, but the minister refused to give any details, citing “commercial sensitivity”.

Event organisers told The Shift that while government sponsorships are justified in some cases, as they generate much more income and economic activity than the original ‘investment’, other sponsorships are difficult to explain due to their low or even nonexistent impact on the economy.


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A. Fan
A. Fan
9 months ago

It’s obviously not the place of sheep and other lower life-forms to question what the duly-elected Pigs decide in their infinitely self-serving wisdom. Afterall, no Oinker should actually be expected to pay for anything, that’s a job for the brainless livestock on Bobby’s farm. (With due reverence for E. A. Blair and his civic fortitude.)

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
9 months ago

He also did not provide information on who received free tickets, stating they were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis “to many who ask for them”

would that be the same people that call Customer Care in Castille to get their driving licence, or a government apartment???

Godfrey Leone Ganado
Godfrey Leone Ganado
9 months ago

This is surely another scheme under the category of ‘tickets for votes’.

Mark Debono
Mark Debono
9 months ago

The usual suspects will get them friends of friends lackeys hangers on etc but all labour?

9 months ago

The usual piggery ..they do not allow a speck of dust to pass through their greedy systems

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