A total of 23 cruise liners called on Malta in the first three months of 2022, an increase of 14 when compared to the same period in 2021 and 2020.
The information comes to light via a National Statistics Office update, and tallies with the sentiment being expressed by Valletta business owners about levels of activity so far this year.
Cruise passengers disembark at the Valletta Cruise Port, and, while visiting tourists are not obliged to stay in the capital for the duration of their stay, a limited number of hours available before having to return to re-embark means that the capital often benefits the most from passing trade coming from cruise passengers.
There are two types of cruise liner passengers, those in transit – meaning they arrive and leave the island via the same cruise on a given day (fixed, day-trip in Malta) and landed passengers, those arriving by cruise and either stay on the island or leave via alternative means, such as by plane.
The vast majority of cruise passengers are generally transit, with 2022 being no exception. The first quarter of 2022 saw 24,559 transit cruise passengers (day trips or overnight fixed stays), and just 641 landed cruise passengers.
Several catering businesses in the capital have repeatedly said that the cruise liner industry provides a much needed boost. Indeed, when the industry took a hit throughout the pandemic, together with office staff working remotely, Valletta businesses saw activity plummet to next to nothing.
Now that business from the cruise industry is back, several restaurant and café owners commented to BusinessNow.mt that the streets in Valletta in 2022 have been bustling with activity throughout the week and office hours.
In the first quarter of the year, EU member state cruise liner passengers made up the vast majority of traffic, at 79.1 per cent.
The major markets were Germany, accounting for 28.2 per cent of the total passengers, followed by Italy, with 18.3 per cent.
The total number of passengers from non-EU countries stood at 5,276, of whom 38.9 per cent came from the United States and 37.3 per cent came from the United Kingdom. On a gender basis, female passengers made up 52.5 per cent of the total.
The largest share of passengers fell within the 40-59 age bracket and were followed by those aged between 60 and 79 years.
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